Bears: Conservation

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 26th July 2010.

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Photo of William Bain William Bain Shadow Minister (Transport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make representations to international agencies on the enforcement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in respect of the farming in Asia of species of bear for bile.

Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Unless domestic practices are stimulating international trade, the convention on international trade in endangered species (CITES) does not restrict such activities. Nevertheless, whereas CITES does not prohibit the domestic "farming" of captive-bred specimens of appendix I species-such as Asiatic black bears-it does regard them as being included in appendix II of the convention and thus requiring appropriate certification if the animals, or products from them, are to be subject to international trade. CITES certification focuses on the conservation impact of international trade and is meant to ensure that such trade is not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild.

Should we be made aware that international trade was taking place, we would of course pass that information to appropriate authorities, including the CITES Secretariat, to verify whether it was being done in accordance with the relevant CITES controls and requirements.

In the UK we take a precautionary approach and ban all commercial trade in bear bile or gall bladders irrespective of their source.

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