TRAFFIC International

Bodle Street, United Kingdom

TRAFFIC International

Bodle Street, United Kingdom
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Sutherland W.J.,University of Cambridge | Broad S.,TRAFFIC International | Caine J.,British Geological Survey | Clout M.,University of Auckland | And 20 more authors.
Trends in Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2016

This paper presents the results of our seventh annual horizon scan, in which we aimed to identify issues that could have substantial effects on global biological diversity in the future, but are not currently widely well known or understood within the conservation community. Fifteen issues were identified by a team that included researchers, practitioners, professional horizon scanners, and journalists. The topics include use of managed bees as transporters of biological control agents, artificial superintelligence, electric pulse trawling, testosterone in the aquatic environment, building artificial oceanic islands, and the incorporation of ecological civilization principles into government policies in China. This is the seventh annual horizon scan. A team of 24 horizon scanners, researchers, practitioners, and journalists identified 15 issues following widespread consultation and a Delphi-like process to select the most suitable.The issues were wide ranging but included artificial superintelligence, changing costs of energy storage and consumptive models, and ecological civilization policies in China. © 2015 The Authors.

Taylor G.,University of Oxford | Scharlemann J.P.W.,University of Sussex | Scharlemann J.P.W.,United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Center | Rowcliffe M.,UK Institute of Zoology | And 51 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2015

Unsustainable hunting threatens both biodiversity and local livelihoods. Despite high levels of research effort focused on understanding the dynamics of bushmeat trade and consumption, current research is largely site specific. Without synthesis and quantitative analysis of available case studies, the national and regional characteristics of bushmeat trade and consumption remain largely speculative, impeding efforts to inform national and regional policy on bushmeat trade. Here we describe the structure and content of the West and Central African bushmeat database which holds quantitative data on bushmeat sales, consumption and offtake for 177 species from 275 sites across 11 countries in two regions, spanning three decades of research. Despite this wealth of available data, we found important biases in research effort. The majority of studies in West and Central Africa have collected market data, which although providing a useful record of bushmeat sales, are limited in their ability to track changes in hunting offtake. In addition, few data exist for West Africa, and few studies have tracked changes over time, using repeat sampling. With new initiatives in the regions to track bushmeat hunting, this database represents an opportunity to synthesise current and future data on bushmeat hunting, consumption and trade in West and Central Africa, identify gaps in current understanding, and systematically target future monitoring efforts. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

PubMed | Center for Conservation Science, British Geological Survey, Fauna and Flora International, University of Siena and 17 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Trends in ecology & evolution | Year: 2016

This paper presents the results of our seventh annual horizon scan, in which we aimed to identify issues that could have substantial effects on global biological diversity in the future, but are not currently widely well known or understood within the conservation community. Fifteen issues were identified by a team that included researchers, practitioners, professional horizon scanners, and journalists. The topics include use of managed bees as transporters of biological control agents, artificial superintelligence, electric pulse trawling, testosterone in the aquatic environment, building artificial oceanic islands, and the incorporation of ecological civilization principles into government policies in China.

News Article | February 15, 2017

Sharks and their relatives face an existential crisis unprecedented in their 420 million years on the planet. A global trade in products from these animals fuels the capture of tens of millions of individuals a year. Strong demand combined with poor fishery regulation and high levels of incidental catch have resulted in many populations being overfished, with some now facing extinction. Many activists argue a total ban on shark fishing is the only solution to slow or halt the decline. But a 2016 study found the majority of shark researchers surveyed believe sustainable shark fisheries are possible and preferable to widespread bans. Many reported they knew of real-world examples of sustainable shark fisheries. But a global roundup of empirical data exploring which species are being fished sustainably was lacking. New research, appearing in the February 6 issue of Current Biology, is filling that gap, and the findings bolster the idea that around the world, some sharks are being fished sustainably. Nicholas Dulvy, a marine conservation biologist at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, and shark ecologist Colin Simpfendorfer of James Cook University in Australia recently examined global stock assessments of 65 shark populations of 47 species. They found 39 of the populations, representing 33 different species, are fished sustainably—that is, they are harvested at levels that allow them to remain stable in size and not edge toward extinction. Although these 33 species account for only a small fraction of the world’s sharks, rays and their kin the chimeras (collectively referred to as sharks), which in total number more than 1,000, they are proof of concept that sustainable shark fishing is possible. Cross-referencing stock assessments sourced from the scientific literature, government agencies, known experts and internet searches with other data sets including United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization catch statistics and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) threat categories, along with trade records, Dulvy and Simpfendorfer calculated the take of biologically sustainable sharks comprised 7 to 9 percent of global totals. But there are two components to sustainable fishing: the biological capability of the fish to withstand harvesting and the careful management of that harvesting by humans. The researchers found only 4 percent of global trade in sharks was directly sustainably managed. Dulvy, who co-chairs the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, says the science “comes straight out of population modeling theory,” and the idea of maximum sustainable yields. To set limits on what can be harvested sustainably, researchers need to know the proportion of old versus young fish in a population as well as the speed with which individuals can reproduce—factors that affect the entire population’s ability to grow, decline or remain stable in numbers. Many shark species are so poorly studied that scientists do not yet know these basic parameters. But, theoretically, any species whose biology is well understood can be managed sustainably. As expected, Dulvy and Simpfendorfer determined some species that reproduce very slowly, including deep-water gulper sharks and cownose rays, cannot sustain fishing pressure. These creatures produce a maximum of one pup per year, on average, so they must be protected to maintain their numbers. But the researchers found something that may come as a surprise to conservation advocates: other relatively low-productivity species could be sustainably fished. One example is the Pacific spiny dogfish Squalus suckleyi, a type of small shark. In 2011 a fishing industry group in British Columbia obtained Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for this species, a process that validates for consumers the product was fished sustainably. It was the first such certification in the world awarded for a shark, explains Michael Renwick, executive director of the British Columbia Dogfish Hook and Line Industry Association who spearheaded this certification process. The Pacific spiny dogfish can live 70 years and does not reach sexual maturity until age 40. Females gestate their babies for two years, and may take a year off from breeding after pups are born. This shark thus has one of the longest reproductive cycles of any animal. “You look at that and you go, ‘how on Earth can [harvesting] that be sustainable?’” Dulvy says. But it is possible because people have invested in figuring out its productivity, in population monitoring and in good management with carefully calculated quotas. Dogfish, a group of species from the Squalidae family of sharks, have not always been managed sustainably. They are the fishes of choice in the traditional British dish, fish and chips. When Europe overfished its own stocks, dogfish fishing shifted overseas to the northeastern coast of the U.S. , where it again took its toll. There, overharvesting of Atlantic spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) throughout the 1990s led officials to significantly restrict that fishery, explains Michael Pentony at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries’ Gloucester, Mass., office. Now that Atlantic dogfish stocks have recovered and the U.S. dogfish industry has obtained MSC certification, British Columbia’s industry has, for multiple reasons, declined, and its industry group has deemed renewal of its MSC status too expensive to pursue. Perhaps the most controversial finding from the new study is that shark fins, too, can be harvested sustainably. Shark fin is a delicacy in some Asian cultures. But the traditional way of harvesting the fins—in which the fins are hacked off of the live animal, which is then tossed back into the sea to suffocate or die from bleeding—has prompted public outcry. The uproar over this practice, called “finning,” has been a major driver for shark conservation. Against that backdrop, sustainable shark fin is an “unthinkable notion for many,” Dulvy and Simpfendorfer acknowledge. But their study suggests it is indeed possible. In fact, they found nearly 9 percent of fins on the market originate from sharks whose populations are being fished sustainably. Obtaining shark fins need not involve finning at all, however. “There are absolutely ways to get fins into the fin trade without finning,” says David Shiffman of the University of Miami, who led the 2016 study that surveyed shark scientists’ attitudes toward shark fishing. He notes great strides in legislation that have reduced the number of sharks finned at sea in at least 17 countries. Indeed, by definition, exploiting a resource sustainably requires whole animal use, Simpfendorfer explains. In the case of MSC-certified Atlantic dogfish, the heads become lobster and crab bait; back meat becomes British fish and chips; belly flaps are a German delicacy; liver supplies nutraceuticals; fins and tails headline east Asian soup; and leftovers become agricultural fertilizer, says Massachusetts-based attorney John Whiteside, Jr., who helped east coast U.S. dogfish fisheries achieve MSC status. But for sustainable shark fishing to work, its products have to be labeled and traceable back to a well-managed source—a requirement that very few of the sustainably harvested fins currently on the market now meet. Traceability depends on careful management of product “chain of custody” with specific information carried through from capture vessel to retailer. Ideally the products have a closed chain of custody, meaning no uncertified products come in from the sidelines, explains Glenn Sant, Fisheries Trade Programme Leader at TRAFFIC International, the wildlife trade monitoring group co-founded by World Wildlife Fund and the IUCN, who was not part of the study. “Industries have been doing this for a long time,” he observes, with bar codes making traceability of products easy and cheap. Traceability challenges are not technological. They lie in gaining sufficient transparency to discern whether the fishery had adequate management within the product’s country of origin. Currently, unless a product is MSC-certified or has permits from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) attached, its traceability “needs great improvement,” Sant says. Determining how to harvest some sharks sustainably while protecting others that cannot be harvested at all will require further work. Dulvy and Simpfendorfer suggest developed countries must support developing ones in improving traceability and negotiating international treaties for fisheries and trade. Bycatch remains a problem, too. Tuna fisheries, for example, often hook pricey species like blue sharks and shortfin makos and then sell them, rather than releasing them. Meanwhile bycatch sharks that are not economically valuable and thus released back to the sea may not fare well either. New satellite tagging research by Steven Campana, a shark biologist at the University of Iceland who was not affiliated with the research, says a quarter of those live-released sharks may die from the stresses of capture and handling. Another concern: legal shark fishing could hide illegal trade. But “illegal unsustainable shark fishing is happening regardless,” Shiffman notes. In his view it is better to have at least some sustainable, scientifically well-managed products in the marketplace. Without them, he says, “whatever fills the gap that we leave is going to be worse.”

Smith M.J.,Microsoft | Benitez-Diaz H.,National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity CONABIO | Clemente-Munoz M.T.,University of Cordoba, Spain | Donaldson J.,South African National Biodiversity Institute | And 8 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2011

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) came into effect in 1975 to protect certain species of wild fauna and flora against over-exploitation through international trade. Determining which trade is detrimental to the survival of species in the wild can be a major difficulty in the implementation of CITES by national authorities, partly due to limited knowledge and understanding of the species' biology, management, and the impacts of harvesting. Some of this knowledge could be acquired through targeted scientific research. However, to date there exists no general overview of the current use of biological information in determining detriment in CITES to help scientists identify research priorities. For an international meeting in 2008, over 100 scientists and regulators compiled 60 case studies covering a wide range of CITES-listed taxa, outlining how information on the biology, harvesting and management might be used to determine whether international trade is detrimental. We used these case studies, workshop conclusions, and other published literature, to identify 10 potential research directions for the scientific community which, if addressed, could greatly assist in the making of Non-Detriment Findings. We hope that this will encourage more scientists to study CITES-listed species, and foster more collaboration between research scientists, CITES national authorities, CITES technical committees and local communities. The case studies highlight a general need for advice on how to identify and manage levels of risk involved when assessing possible detriment, and for advice on assessing detriment under complex harvesting scenarios such as when multiple species, or parts of individuals, are harvested. Broadly, they highlight an opportunity for scientists to further develop a body of scientific studies that propose, refine and adapt methods for assessing detrimental trade in CITES-listed taxa. Comparisons within life-form groups indicated the potential for the identification of practical advice that could apply to groups of taxa. The case studies highlighted a widespread need for more information gathering studies of CITES-listed taxa such as the broader impacts of harvesting on populations and ecosystems, and the potential long-term evolutionary impacts. The case studies also highlighted the need for practical advice on how to implement adaptive management programmes and for research into enterprises based on the harvesting of CITES-listed species from the wild. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Underwood F.M.,University of Reading | Burn R.W.,Independent Consultant | Milliken T.,TRAFFIC International
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Reliable evidence of trends in the illegal ivory trade is important for informing decision making for elephants but it is difficult to obtain due to the covert nature of the trade. The Elephant Trade Information System, a global database of reported seizures of illegal ivory, holds the only extensive information on illicit trade available. However inherent biases in seizure data make it difficult to infer trends; countries differ in their ability to make and report seizures and these differences cannot be directly measured. We developed a new modelling framework to provide quantitative evidence on trends in the illegal ivory trade from seizures data. The framework used Bayesian hierarchical latent variable models to reduce bias in seizures data by identifying proxy variables that describe the variability in seizure and reporting rates between countries and over time. Models produced bias-adjusted smoothed estimates of relative trends in illegal ivory activity for raw and worked ivory in three weight classes. Activity is represented by two indicators describing the number of illegal ivory transactions - Transactions Index - and the total weight of illegal ivory transactions - Weights Index - at global, regional or national levels. Globally, activity was found to be rapidly increasing and at its highest level for 16 years, more than doubling from 2007 to 2011 and tripling from 1998 to 2011. Over 70% of the Transactions Index is from shipments of worked ivory weighing less than 10 kg and the rapid increase since 2007 is mainly due to increased consumption in China. Over 70% of the Weights Index is from shipments of raw ivory weighing at least 100 kg mainly moving from Central and East Africa to Southeast and East Asia. The results tie together recent findings on trends in poaching rates, declining populations and consumption and provide detailed evidence to inform international decision making on elephants. © 2013 Underwood et al.

van Schingen M.,Cologne Zoo | van Schingen M.,University of Cologne | Ziegler T.,Cologne Zoo | Ziegler T.,University of Cologne | And 6 more authors.
Global Ecology and Conservation | Year: 2016

The international wildlife trade in allegedly "captive-bred" specimens has globally increased during recent years, while the legal origin of respective animals frequently remains doubtful. Worldwide, authorities experience strong challenges to effectively control the international trade in CITES-listed species and are struggling to uncover fraudulent claims of "captive-breeding". Forensic analytical methods are being considered as potential tools to investigate wildlife crime. The present case study is the first of its kind in reptiles that investigates the application of δ13C and δ15N stable isotope ratios to discriminate between captive and wild crocodile lizards from Vietnam. The CITES-listed crocodile lizard Shinisaurus crocodilurus is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List mainly due to habitat loss and unsustainable exploitation for the international pet trade. Our results revealed significant differences in the composition of the two tested isotope systems between captive and wild individuals. Isotope values of skin samples from captive specimens were significantly enriched in 13C and 15N as compared to specimens from the wild. We also used the weighted k-Nearest Neighbor classifier to assign simulated samples back to their alleged place of origin and demonstrated that captive bred individuals could be distinguished with a high degree of accuracy from specimens that were not born in captivity. We conclude that isotope analysis appears to be highly attractive as a forensic tool to reduce laundering of wild caught lizards via breeding farms, but acknowledge that this potential might be limited to range restricted or ecologically specialist species. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.

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