Director Biosecurity Service Ngatoko Ta Ngatoko said CITES was a complicated convention that many people needed to understand better.
CITES as an agreement between a large number of nations, signed back in 1973 and brought into force in 1975. It is now one of the oldest conventions in the world regulating trade in wildlife products.
Ngatoko there were around 182 members, but the Cook Islands was not among them.
“This workshop is to help us understand CITES, because at the end of the day we must have knowledge about all these trading systems and protect our people.
“We all play an important part in our workforce and community and for all the agencies present at this workshop, our objective is to also share information on current border activities dealing with the movement of wildlife species, yachts, vessels, aircrafts, cargoes and travelling passengers. It all has to do with the CITES agreement.”.
National Environment Services (NES) officer Elizabeth Munro said though the Cook Islands was not a member, the country was obligated to meet the requirement of CITES member countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
“So for us to take any species listed in the CITES list from the Cook Islands to any CITES member country, we have to meet the requirements of the agreement because it involves trade and a movement of species,” Munro said.
She said the Pacific region there are about five member countries and if the convention’s requirements were not met by those countries, they would be added to a blacklist and a notification will be sent to other countries not to accept any imports from them.
Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) Secretary Ben Ponia said there were a number of “issues” surrounding CITES.
“Bear in mind CITES is a bit of a political party and we are not a member of this convention and neither is China.
“CITES is an early convention that was set up many years ago when the UN membership was somewhat politicised on this issue.”
He said workshops such as yesterday’s event were important, but it needed to be understood that regulation and management plans took time to fall into in place.
“But sharing of information is always effective.”