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Institutions and personnel

13. The Convention requires each Party to designate one or more Management Authorities and one or more Scientific Authorities.

14. The Management Authority is mandated to ensure that the provisions of the Convention are met for trade in a listed species to occur. In performing these functions, the Management Authority must, for some requirements, rely on advice from the Scientific Authority. The Management Authority may also seek advice from other appropriately qualified institutions including regional organizations.

15. Responsibility for fisheries management is often vested in a separate government department to that responsible for CITES implementation. FAO has drawn attention to the need for improved communication and coordination between the respective authorities in order to achieve more effective coordination within government. CITES has expressed a similar need and, for example, Decision 12.53 requested CITES Management Authorities to strengthen their collaboration and cooperation with appropriate fisheries agencies regarding the management of seahorse (Hippocampus) species. The possibility for more than one Authority to be designated by a Party allows for different areas of government to be responsible for particular species.

16. The Scientific Authority is responsible for advising whether trade in a listed species will be detrimental to the survival of that species. In order to discharge this responsibility effectively, the decision-making process of the Scientific Authority must be independent of the Management Authority.

CITES permits and certificates

In general

17. International trade in CITES-listed species is regulated according to a system of permits and certificates. The particular Appendix in which a taxon is included determines the level of regulation and the nature of the trade which can be conducted.

18. Export of Appendix-I and -II species requires a finding that export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild and a legal finding that the specimen was not obtained in contravention of the laws of that State for the protection of fauna and flora. Export or re-export of an Appendix-I species also requires the prior grant of an import permit from the importing country. The import permit is granted when the importing country is satisfied that the specimen is not to be used for primarily commercial purposes. Re-export requires a certificate to be granted that the import was in accordance with CITES provisions.

19. There are specific circumstances under which certain Parties may be relieved of CITES obligations with respect to trade in marine species listed in Appendix II. This is discussed further in paragraphs 30 and 31.

20. The obligations for a Party listing a species in Appendix III are different to those for non-listing Parties. A country having listed a species in Appendix III must issue an export permit prior to the specimens being exported. Such permits are granted on the basis of a finding that the specimen has not been illegally obtained. There is no requirement for a non-detriment finding.

21. Export of Appendix-III species from non-listing Parties requires a “certificate of origin” granted on the basis that the specimen originated in that country. A re-export certificate is required where the specimens have previously been imported.

Introduction from the sea

22. “Introduction from the Sea” is a significant provision in the application of CITES to some marine species, and is defined as “...transportation into a State of specimens of any species which were taken in the marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any State”. To date CITES Parties have not formally clarified what constitutes jurisdictional waters and the implementation implications for commercially-harvested marine species.

23. In relation to species listed in Appendix I or II, the Management Authority of the State of introduction must grant a certificate of introduction from the sea before such an introduction takes place. The granting of a certificate of introduction requires a non-detriment finding to be made by the Scientific Authority of the State of introduction. It has not yet been clarified whether the State of introduction is the flag State of the fishing vessel concerned or the State into which the catch is first landed.

24. In respect to Appendix-II species, Article IV.7 provides for the Scientific Authority to consult with “...other national scientific authorities or, when appropriate, international scientific authorities...” with regard to the possibility of setting annual quotas on the number of specimens able to be introduced. For certain marine species caught on the high seas there are well-developed scientific analyses of the status of stocks and estimates of the level of sustainable catch. This may be of particular relevance to species harvested on the high seas under the mandate of a regional fisheries management organization (RFMO) and for which an annual total allowable catch (TAC) may have been set. There are cases of stocks and species that are not currently under the mandate of a RFMO and for which little is known about sustainable catch. In relation to a listed species falling within this category, CITES Parties would need to develop a coordinated approach to making a non-detriment finding.

25. The decision by a Party to grant a certificate of introduction from the sea does not require a finding to be made that the catch was legally obtained. However, CITES specimens introduced from the sea may have been taken in a manner that contravened the conservation and management measures of a regional fisheries management organization (e.g., illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing on the high seas). A Party may decide not to grant a certificate of introduction on the basis that specimens were obtained in contravention of the requirements of national legislation and other relevant international treaties and agreements to which that State is also a Party.

26. The lack of clarity in some issues relating to introduction from the sea has not affected the practical application of the CITES provisions despite there being some species listed in Appendix I or II (e.g. basking shark Cetorhinus maximus and whale shark Rhincodon typus) that are potentially harvested from such areas. Differing interpretations of “introduction from the sea” are however an area that requires further consideration and clarification by the Parties and is the subject of a separate FAO Expert Consultation to be held in June 2004.

Non-detriment findings

27. Article IV.2a explains that before granting a permit for trade in specimens of species included in Appendix II, a Scientific Authority of the State of export must advise the Management Authority that such export will not be detrimental to the survival of that species. Furthermore, in order to ensure that trade in specimens of Appendix-II species is not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild, Article IV.3 requires the Scientific Authority to monitor export permits issued against actual exports and determine when such exports should be limited in order “to maintain that species throughout its range at a level consistent with its role in the ecosystems in which it occurs and well above the level at which that species might become eligible for inclusion in Appendix I”. Whenever such determinations are made, the Scientific Authority of the exporting Party is required to advise the appropriate Management Authority of suitable measures to be taken to limit the grant of export permits for specimens of that species. One such mechanism that has been adopted is the use of annual export quotas. Export quotas may either be established voluntarily by exporting Parties, established by the Conference of the Parties or as a result of the Significant Trade Review (see paragraphs 34 to 35).

28. There is no standard formula or methodology for making non-detriment findings for Appendix-I and -II species. Resolution Conf. 10.3 contains recommendations on the types and sources of information that might be taken into account when making such findings. Management regimes for aquatic species vary in complexity from sophisticated stock assessment models reliant on extensive catch and fishery data to the application of relatively simple measures such as closed areas and minimum size limits. Depending on the nature of the resource, an effective management regime from anywhere within this range may be sufficient to support a non-detriment finding. Article 7 of the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries also provides guidance for the implementation of effective fisheries management, inherent in which is non-detrimental harvesting.

29. The responsibility for determining the basis on which to make a non-detriment finding lies with each Party and hence responsibility for determining at what level harvest is sustainable. However those determinations can be and have been queried by the Secretariat and other Parties and may, following consultation with the affected Party, be subject to change.

Relationship with other conventions and treaties dealing with marine species

30. Article XIV paragraphs 4 to 6 deals with the relationship between CITES and other treaties, conventions and international agreements that relate to marine species.

31. Under paragraph 4 a Party may be relieved of its obligations relating to marine species listed in Appendix II. This exemption only applies to agreements in force at the time of the coming into force of CITES (i.e., 1 July 1975). In this respect, it should be noted that a number of fisheries conventions and agreements were in force prior to that date, for example the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) entered into force on 3 March 1950 while the International Convention on the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) entered into force on 21 March 1969.

Monitoring and tracking of trade

32. An important function of the Management Authority is to maintain records of trade in specimens of listed species and submit annual reports to the CITES Secretariat detailing that trade. These data are compiled and used by a Party to monitor and assess trade in a particular species. The information is also used as a foundation for determining candidate species for the Significant Trade Review.

33. In order to clearly differentiate specimens obtained directly from the wild from those derived from other production systems, each permit and certificate must display, inter alia, the country of origin and source code for the specimen. These codes assist in interpreting and monitoring trade from individual countries in listed species to assess potential trade impacts on wild populations and compliance with CITES trade controls.

Significant trade review

34. Effective implementation of Article IV non-detriment requirements is viewed by many Parties as lying at the nucleus of the Convention, as a means of preventing movement of species from Appendix II to Appendix I and the obvious disruption this would cause to legitimate international commerce. Selected taxa are periodically reviewed by the Animals and Plants Committees and Article IV implementation problems are identified through the Significant Trade Review.

35. Recommended actions, necessary to correct identified problems, are transmitted by the Secretariat to affected exporting Parties. Depending on the nature and urgency of the problem(s), the recipient Party has a specified period in which to satisfy the Secretariat, in consultation with the Chair of the Animals Committee or Plants Committee, that it has addressed and corrected the problem(s). The process applies to all Appendix-II species. Commercially-exploited Appendix-II species of priority concern that are traded in significant numbers are likely to remain potential candidates for review and possible consequent action under this procedure.

Non-compliance with CITES obligations

36. Mechanisms are in place to address non-compliance by Parties. Non-compliance that is species-specific may result from failure to implement the recommendations resulting from the Significant Trade Review within the prescribed timeframe. Party-specific non-compliance may result from an absence of national enabling legislation, failure to provide an annual report for three consecutive years or a high level of illegal trade in listed species. In both cases, the Secretariat undertakes extensive consultation and liaison with the Party concerned. Furthermore, some assistance may be made available to Parties to help them in implementing the Convention. The two case studies demonstrate that a number of countries have encountered substantial difficulty in complying with CITES provisions. Nevertheless, CITES has provided substantial support and the case studies also showed that some countries have made considerable progress.

37. Continuing failure, or the absence of progress, to redress compliance issues may lead to Parties adopting various measures that will bring a non-compliant Party into compliance. This may include, as a last resort, a decision by the Standing Committee to recommend that Parties suspend trade either for a specific species from the Party concerned (Significant Trade Review) or suspension in all trade in listed species from a Party. Such recommendations remain effective until such time as the Party concerned demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Standing Committee that it has taken appropriate remedial action.

38. Article XIV also provides for Parties to adopt stricter domestic measures in regulating trade in listed species. Such measures may result in the requirement by the importing Party for non-detriment to be demonstrated, with a failure to do so generally resulting in suspension of imports of that species to that Party.

Application of precautionary measures (Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP12) Annex 4)

39. Guidelines for transferring a species from Appendix I to Appendix II are presented in Annex 4 of Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP12). The introductory paragraph specifically requires Parties to exercise caution in cases of uncertainty when considering amendment proposals transferring a species from Appendix I to Appendix II and the Precautionary Principle is well embodied among the parameters that have to be satisfied. For example, no Appendix-I species can be deleted from the Appendices without first being transferred to Appendix II. Furthermore, even if a candidate taxon does not satisfy the Annex 1 criteria for inclusion in Appendix I, it should remain listed in that Appendix unless a suite of specified management “safeguards” is satisfied. These have included:

40. Historically the movement of species from Appendix I to Appendix II, relative to the numbers of taxa that have been included in Appendix I, has been infrequent.

41. Viable stocks of aquatic species represent a globally important source of food security. In this context, many FAO Members have expressed concern that the precautionary approach, as applied under CITES, could be subject to extreme interpretation using worst case scenarios and have proposed a more balanced approach and practicable use of the principle. An important recommendation from FAO has been the need for a sufficiently responsive and flexible mechanism for listing and de-listing.[4]

42. In the event that a commercially-exploited aquatic species is deemed to satisfy the criteria for inclusion in Appendices I or II, mechanisms should be in place that facilitate an appropriate response time to positive changes in the conservation status of such species. Further the nature of safeguard mechanisms for down-listing of Appendix-I species and the manner in which they might be applied may form the basis of future discussions between FAO and CITES.

[4] FAO. 2000. Report of the Technical Consultation on the Suitability of the CITES Criteria for Listing Commercially-exploited Aquatic Species, Rome, Italy, 28-30 June 2000. FAO Fisheries Report No. 629. FAO, Rome.

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