OPINION | Give the preservation role back to the communities

Blue shark (Photo: NOAA/Mark Conlin)

CITES (an International Convention/UN Enforcer) is now considering a proposal to list all 19 shark species of the family Carcharhinidae thereby placing all sharks under their benevolent “protection”, i.e., no use, management or control. This, while burgeoning shark attacks, shark numbers, and shark sizes increase over large swaths of the marine and littoral environments.

Consider how CITES rules the international shipment of trophies or the transfer of wild animals internationally to private or governmental entities and the effects this is having. CITES also “works with” certain nations and NGOs to eliminate sustainable uses of wildlife parts and products like ivory, feathers, etc. Today, No-Wildlife Management or Use Mandates from CITES and remote (from Rural Communities) Central Governments are destroying both wildlife and rural families and communities as bureaucratic densities and costs, ironically, go through the roof.

Wildlife’s diversity and abundance, along with rural human prosperity, is being lost worldwide as “protection from any use” and a lack of any management in settled landscapes reduces its value to zero and even less when destructive and dangerous predators are considered.

In the United States alone and simultaneously with the creation of CITES in the early 1970s, 38 major environment and wildlife laws were passed that increased the remote bureaucratic authority and jurisdiction of the central government in Washington ten-fold over wildlife at the expense of state governments that were less remote and more accountable, rural communities and the managed wildlife they had each co-existed with for over a century.

This current web of intertwined laws, international agreements and the steady flow of regulations, rules and mandates emanating from an army of unelected bureaucrats is like a legal fish net constructed by lawyers and bureaucrats determined to vacate rural precincts by devaluing wildlife and its value. As revenue and enjoyment from managed, used, and controlled wildlife disappears, so too does wildlife diversity, abundance, and human prosperity.

The only sensible and achievable chance for people and wildlife to co-exist is to devolve the authority and jurisdiction over such renewable natural resources such as wildlife back to the lowest (hence the most responsive and accountable) possible governmental level. This would incorporate the will of the local communities after seeing the actual “science” and facts and how they would affect their lives. They should decide (not be dictated to) what is best for them as far as everything from diversity and predator control to public land management and revenue-sharing of licensing and associated revenue for wildlife communities that are best for the human communities that sustain them.

Wild things and places will ultimately be far safer and more secure under people that have a stake in and willingly live with diverse and well-managed wildlife communities rather than the current bureaucratic tyranny that exercises authority over them while devaluing them today.

Article reprinted with permission from the IWMC – World Conservation Trust.

Jim Beers

Jim Beers is IWMC Vice-President for the USA.