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CITES Infiltrated by the Shark Fin Industry

By March 30, 2012No Comments

Dr. Giam Choo Hoo identified as being a representative on the Working Group to decide on ‘Conflict of Interest’ provisos in CITES

Commentary By Gary Stokes, Sea Shepherd Hong Kong Coordinator

editorial_120330_1_1_cites_infiltrated_4990Recently Sea Shepherd exposed how CITES has been infiltrated by the Shark Fin industry through the Alternate Representative for Asia, Dr Giam Choo Hoo – “a representative of the shark fin industry in Singapore”, as he said in his own words. Captain Watson has written to both CITES and the Singapore Government demanding the immediate removal of Dr Giam so that he can no longer influence the serious conservation rulings that CITES are responsible for.

A second demand from Sea Shepherd to CITES was the introduction of Conflict of Interest provisos, which in the bigger picture, is something that cannot afford to be neglected any longer. In fairness to the CITES Secretariat, they have tried to introduce such provisos on several occasions.

At the 14th Conference of Parties at The Hague in 2007, the CITES Secretariat made efforts to introduce the provisos. Again in 2008 at the 17th Plant/23rd Animal Committee meetings in Geneva the CITES Secretariat recommended that the Committees should adopt the draft Rules of Procedure, including RULE 26 on Conflict of Interest which stated:

Rule 26: “In cases where a member or alternate member of the Animals and Plants Committee has a financial or personal interest that could call into question his or her impartiality, objectivity or independence regarding a subject to be discussed by the Committee, he or she must disclose the interest to the Committee in advance of the discussions. Following any such disclosure and where appropriate after consultations with the Secretariat, the member or alternate member may participate in the discussion but not in the making of any decision with regard to the subject.”

editorial_120330_1_2_cites_infiltrated_5050A working group was established to look into the proposed ‘Rules of Procedure’. The Chairman of this work group was the Representative of North America from the Plants Committee, Mr. Gabel. The members of the work group were Mrs. Clemente Muñoz (Plants Committee Chairman) and- you guessed it………The Alternate Representative for Asia on the Animals Committee Dr Giam Choo Hoo (aka the shark fin industry representative).

It should come as no surprise then, that when the working group reported back their suggestion was that the proposed RULE 26 on Conflict of Interest be deleted. Here’s what they had to say:

“With respect to proposed Rule 26, the view was expressed that this was essentially an ethical matter, more appropriate to a code of conduct rather than to rules of procedure. The question of how a conflict of interest could be identified, and who might make such a determination was also raised.”

Following their recommendations on the draft Rules of Procedure, RULE 26 on Conflict of Interest was deleted….

Not to be thwarted, the Secretary General of CITES, Mr. John Scanlon tried again at voluntary register of interests. Some members thought there was merit in this, however others opposed, stating that the Animal and Plant Committees had already considered and rejected the possibility of amending their Rules of Procedure, going as far as to state that there has never been a problem in the scientific committees related to conflict of interests.

The Standing Committee agreed, and to this day, thanks to Dr GIAM, CITES has no Conflict of Interest provisos.

So Dr Giam Choo Hoo, Sea Shepherd has three questions for you:

  1. How Much Have You Been Getting Paid?
  1. By Whom?
  1. To Do What?

Report on attempts to introduce Conflict of Interest provisos (PDF)

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