A different perspective on the CITES disaster

Lots has been written about the recent failure of CITES to protect marine species. Most of it focuses on blaming countries like Japan and China for putting commerce ahead of science and conservation. However, SCUBA operator and blogger Mike Da Shark has a different perspective- he criticizes the NGOs who advocated for conservation.

I definitely recommend reading the entire article here, but here are some quotes:

“All I get to see are the continued ramblings of the pundits slamming the Japanese and depicting unhelpful doomsday scenarios – and lemme tell you: I am not impressed!
Ocean Death Panel? Sushi-Cide? Tunapocalypse? What’s this, a high school poetry contest to complement the pathetic home movies?”

“Here, it appears, a motley uncoordinated naïve and clueless group of amateurs paid themselves a trip to Doha in order to protest, pontificate and vociferate – and by those metrics alone, the output has been impressive indeed!
Not however the end result: Zilch, Zero, Nana de Nada!”

I say, there has to be a moment of accountability after a failure of this dimension.
It’s time for those righteous and self-congratulatory folks to stop whining, to climb off their high horses and to have a hard look into the mirror – and yes, if they dare doing so, what they will see is a bunch of total and utter losers!
Time for the Director of Conservation Strategies to acknowledge that the “strategy”, if ever there was one, sucked; time for the Campaign Manager to realize that her “managerial skills” were pathetically inadequate and the campaign, a total fiasco; time for everybody who made the trip on other people’s money to tell them how much the debacle cost and to explain why going to Doha was a good idea in the first place and why the public should continue to send money to finance those useless exercises; time for replacing the failed managers and for abandoning the failed strategies in favor of new, pragmatic approaches with a chance of success”

“The lesson to be learned is that the pro faction needs to be better prepared, better coordinated and more ruthless – and possibly also more charming!”

I see what Mike is saying and I agree with some of it. By any measure, the marine  conservation NGOs at CITES failed to achieve their goals, and we definitely we need a new strategy.

However, I know several NGO representatives who went to Doha, and I must object to Mike calling them a “motley uncoordinated naïve and clueless group of amateurs”. Just as calling the Japanese representatives mean names won’t help anything, calling NGO representatives mean names won’t help anything.

Many new strategies are being proposed, but as of now I am a fan of NGOs forming a united front at meetings like CITES.



  1. RTSea · April 7, 2010

    I too can agree with the substance of what Mike is saying and also agree with your position regarding descriptions. Unfortunately, the blogosphere is ripe with language that can tweak the noses of many and that simply polarizes everything.

    But Mike is dead-on that conservation groups must realize that they are up against powerful forces with very aggressive, sophisticated, and well-funded strategies.

    I did a post on my blog today that looks at the fundamental sense of self-preservation in many of our hallowed institutions and how it can override issues like conservation. We must be determined and we must be smarter than we have been.

    Richard Theiss/RTSea

    • WhySharksMatter · April 8, 2010

      Do you have any thoughts on how we can be smarter?

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