China urged to follow treaty on sea, wildlife protection

Posted at 06/10/14 12:22 PM

MANILA - Greenpeace Southeast Asia is urging China and other governments to respect a treaty aimed at protecting wildlife at sea amid reports of poaching in disputed waters.

In an interview with radio dzMM, Greenpeace Southeast Asia political adviser Zelda Soriano said the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) obliges signatories not to threaten wild animals, plants, and other species.

China vessels have been caught on video hauling Hawksbill sea turtles (pawikan) and huge clams (taklobo) in disputed areas in the Spratlys, including Subi Reef, Malvar Reef, and Mabini Reef.

Previously, fishermen from a Chinese vessel were caught by Philippine officials poaching on Philippine waters. In their haul were hundreds of dead pawikan.

Soriano said the problem with the international accord is that there is no marshal or institutionalized mechanism to implement the laws of the seas.

However, “based on usual practices and norms, a complaint can be lodged before the CITES secretariat, which then issues a warning against the violator. Member countries can also come up with an agreement to suspend trade with the violator,” she said.

She said Greenpeace alone is already disseminating online petitions urging governments to stop overfishing and other destructive actions at sea.

She added there are also "internal" discussions on alternative ways by which the group can stop such moves.

Before, Greenpeace vessels even try to stop or block other vessels caught poaching.