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Mexico Ratifies Nagoya Protocol, But Progress Remains Slow

Posted: September 28, 2012, 1:45 p.m., EDT

By John Dawes

“The speed of signature…is unprecedented, and demonstrates the commitment of the Parties to ensure the early entry into force of this most important instrument…before 10 July, 2012.”

These were the words of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) executive secretary Ahmed Djoghaf, subsequent to the opening for signature of the “Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair Trade and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization.” The one-year signature period closed on February 1, 2012, having secured well over the 50 signatures required to proceed to the next stage (i.e., ratification).

Golden Parrots
Even ‘man-made’ fish, such as these golden parrots, could be affected by the Nagoya Protocol. John Dawes

Once the protocol comes into force, virtually every industry that utilizes biological resources will be affected, including, without any shadow of doubt, the ornamental aquatic industry. By giving countries-of-origin sovereign rights over their biological resources, the protocol empowers every country that supplies fish, invertebrates and aquatic plants for home aquaria and ponds to determine how it will control access to these resources.

At its most basic level, the Nagoya Protocol could affect trade in everything from guppies to cleaner shrimp. And I’m not just referring to wild-caught guppies or cleaner shrimps; cultivated varieties, too, could be affected. So, it’s not a question of if, but of how and when, the industry will have to take steps to implement the protocol.

However, the fact that 93 CBD Parties (member countries) signed the protocol before the deadline doesn’t mean that it will be implemented straightaway. In fact, this won’t happen until 90 days after 50 CBD Parties have ratified the protocol—and there’s a significant difference between signature and ratification.

Once a country signs the protocol, it “may then proceed to take steps at the domestic level that would lead to depositing their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval….” Parties that were not able to sign within the allocated period can still accede to the protocol. In practice, ratification, acceptance, approval and accession will all have the same legal effect in that such countries are then bound to adhere to the Protocol.

Significantly, as mentioned earlier, the protocol will only come into force 90 days after it has been ratified by 50 CBD Parties, and it is this that has resulted in the July 10, 2012 target date being missed. The fact is we are still a long way short of these 50 ratifications.

Mexico is the latest country to ratify at the time of writing, and the first “mega-diverse” country to do so. However, it is only the fifth country to ratify, the others being minor ones as far as the ornamental aquatic industry is concerned: Gabon, Jordan, Rwanda and Seychelles.

At a meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Nagoya Protocol held in New Delhi in early July 2012, “some 500 delegates agreed on recommendations relating to key issues for the entry into force and implementation” of the protocol. They also, “demonstrated their commitment to early ratification,” and it is expected that a number of them will have completed the necessary domestic steps mentioned above by the end of the current year.

So, as things stand at the moment, the protocol did not come into force in July 2012, as the CBD hoped it would. Nor is it likely to do so in the immediate future, unless there’s a flood of unforeseen ratifications. Nonetheless, this will happen at some stage and this could be before some in the trade might expect. Somewhat worryingly, the industry would have been caught totally unprepared had the July 2012 date been met. Will it be prepared when eventual enforcement arrives, as it inevitably will? The signs are that it won’t be ready. And then what? <HOME>

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Mexico Ratifies Nagoya Protocol, But Progress Remains Slow

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