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CITES CRITERIA FOR COMMERCIALLY-EXPLOITED AQUATIC SPECIES


63. The Secretariat in introducing this item on the basis of document COFI/2001/6 highlighted the purpose of CITES and differences between the three Appendixes. The attention of the Committee was drawn to the particular relevance of Appendix II to species exploited by commercial fisheries and to the uncertainty surrounding the intention of listing on this Appendix: whether it was intended only to reduce the risk of species extinction or also for the promotion of sustainable use. Attention was also drawn to the outcomes of the Technical Consultation on the Suitablility of the CITES Criteria for Listing Commercially-exploited Aquatic Species (Rome, June 2000) (document COFI/2001/Inf.9) for its consideration. The Secretariat requested guidance from the Committee on whether further action would be required by FAO, and whether opinions and recommendations should be passed on to CITES, bearing in mind the timetable for CITES own criteria review process, which would require input from FAO by November 2001.

64. Members expressed appreciation for the work carried out to date by the FAO Secretariat and by the Technical Consultation. The good cooperation that had been established between the FAO and CITES Secretariats was also acknowledged.

65. There was widespread support for the conclusions and recommendations of the June 2000 Technical Consultation, encompassing those dealing with both the criteria and the process. Several Members stated that the CITES criteria as applied to commercially-exploited aquatic species should be consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other subsidiary instruments such as the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

66. Many Members remarked that the existing criteria required further analysis and refinement and that FAO had an important role to play in this process through ensuring that CITES had access to the best technical advice available and that the criteria took into account the relevant life history and taxonomic characteristics of each case. There was also general agreement that decisions concerning listing and de-listing of species should be based on the best possible scientific evidence and an effective scientific evaluation process.

67. There was considerable debate about the intention of listing on Appendix II. A number of Members expressed their concern about the possibility of CITES being seen as a replacement for fisheries management, stating that this had not been intended when CITES was established and that CITES was not equipped for this purpose. A number of delegates indicated that CITES should only have a complementary role in this matter. Several Members expressed the opinion that Appendix II had a role to play but only for species that might become threatened with extinction and only when they have not been subject to trade regulation by relevant regional fisheries management organizations. Concern was also expressed about the inability of CITES to respond rapidly in terms of listing and, particularly, de-listing in response to changes in the status of species. This was a particular problem for fishery resources which tended to experience rapid and substantial natural changes in abundance. Many Members indicated that good fisheries management was the primary responsibility of the national, regional or international fisheries management organizations within its mandated area. Some Members acknowledged that CITES had an important role to play in the conservation of flora and fauna but that this should not be compromised by using it without the benefit of relevant technical expertise to be provided by FAO in the case of commonly traded marine species.

68. The Committee endorsed the recommendations of the Technical Consultation that FAO should establish a process to consider the problems and potential solutions in relation to listing fishery resources under Article II, including the implications of the "look alike" provision (paragraph 2(b)), introductions from the sea, and the precautionary approach (Annex 4 of CITES resolution 9.24). It agreed that the follow up on these matters should be dealt with by the COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade under the title "Developing a workplan for exploring CITES issues with respect to international fish trade".

69. There was general support for FAO continuing to facilitate communication amongst its Members, regional fishery bodies and CITES. There was general agreement that countries must improve internal communication between those agencies responsible for fisheries matters and those responsible for CITES matters in connection with listing and de-listing commercially-exploited aquatic resources.

70. The Committee agreed on the following process regarding FAO input to CITES on the listing criteria, subject to the availability of extra-budgetary funds to cover the costs. It was designed to meet the requirements of the CITES timetable while still allowing time for FAO members to participate as fully as possible in the process.

(i) The FAO Secretariat would prepare a background paper detailing as required the analysis of the CITES listing criteria, focusing on Appendix II, and proposing a scientific framework for evaluating the status of species for such listing.

(ii) This background paper would be considered by a technical consultation which would be held before November 2001, possibly in September. Namibia offered to host this Consultation and to coordinate the local arrangements but extra-budgetary funding would be necessary in order to prepare a background paper; to facilitate participation at the meeting; and to ensure translation of the documents. The Technical Consultation would formulate a proposal to be sent to CITES on the revision of the criteria as well as on the process of revision and listing. This proposal would be formally considered at the Eighth Session of the COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade to be held in February 2002. Because of the time constraint, the conclusions of the Technical Consultation would be sent to the CITES Secretariat on an informal basis in time for the Chairs of the CITES Plants and Animals Committees to prepare their report for the CITES Standing Committee.

(iii) The proposals of the Technical Consultation would be considered and endorsed or amended as necessary at the COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade and its decisions formally conveyed to CITES by the FAO Secretariat.

71. The Committee agreed that if the Technical Consultation could not be arranged for financial or technical reasons or because agreement could not be achieved at the Technical Consultation, the report of the Technical Consultation of June 2000 would be sent to CITES as the formal FAO input to their review process.

72. Some Members highlighted the need for the development of procedure for closer cooperation between FAO and the CITES Secretariat.


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