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Evaluation of the proposals

7. The Panel considered the following four proposals:

CoP13 Prop. 32. Proposal to include Carcharodon carcharias (white shark) on CITES Appendix II, including an annotation that states that a zero annual export quota is established for this species.

CoP13 Prop. 33. Proposal to include Cheilinus undulatus (humphead wrasse) in Appendix II in accordance with Article II, paragraph 2(a) of the Convention.

CoP13 Prop. 35. Proposal to include Lithophaga lithophaga (Mediterranean date mussel) in Appendix II.

CoP13 Prop. 36. Proposal for an amendment of the annotation for Helioporidae spp., Tubiporidae spp., Scleractinia spp., Milleporidae spp. and Stylasteridae spp.

The assessments prepared by the Panel on each of these Proposals are attached to this report as Appendixes E, F, G and H respectively.

General comments and observations

Comments from Member Countries received by the FAO Secretariat

8. In accordance with the terms of reference for the Panel, FAO Members and regional fishery management organizations were notified of the proposals submitted that dealt with commercially-exploited aquatic species and were informed that FAO would be convening the ad hoc Advisory Panel. They were invited to send any comments or relevant information to the FAO Secretariat, for consideration by the Panel. Five countries responded to this request. As well as providing some information directly relevant to some of the proposals, the responses covered the range of views previously expressed by FAO Members on the role of CITES in relation to commercially-exploited aquatic species. These range from the view that CITES could provide a useful instrument, complementary to traditional fisheries management, in protecting fishery resources from extinction and in promoting their sustainable use, to the opinion that this role could be better taken care of by other instruments.

The Listing criteria considered in the Panel evaluation

9. The criteria relevant to the proposals for an Appendix II listing considered by the Panel are those in Annex 2a in conjunction with the guidelines in Annex 5 of Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP12). However, a revision of this Resolution is currently underway. The draft version of the revision at the time of the Panel meeting (CITES document CoP13 Doc. 57) differs in a number of respects from Res. Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP12). Most importantly, for commercially-exploited aquatic species, it includes revisions in the wording of the Annex 2a criteria and the associated Annex 5 decline guidelines, as detailed in the individual assessment reports. Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP12) will be used for the next CoP meeting (CoP13). However, FAO considers the current revision (CoP13 Doc. 57) to be more appropriate for commercially-exploited aquatic species.

General comments by the Panel on the proposals

10. The proposals made substantial efforts to provide good information on the population and life history parameters of the species under consideration. However, it is also important for proponents to provide more information on how the parameters and trends reported upon were derived, so that Parties and the Panel are able to assess adequately their accuracy and precision.

11. The Panel noted that there were several instances in the proposals where the proponents appeared not to have given sufficient consideration to the quality of the information to which they referred in their proposals. The Panel frequently examined the original sources of information referenced in the proposals. In these instances it was sometimes found that there were problems in the information available from the original source arising from, for example, inadequacies in the methods used or in the consistency of the data over time. In other cases, the proponents did not use or interpret the information either accurately or comprehensively. The Panel recommended that in the preparation of proposals it is essential that the proponents ensure the validity of any information they cite and that they use it appropriately.

12. It is essential that proposals include not only the best estimates of relevant parameters and measures but also estimates of the uncertainties (e.g. standard errors) in those parameters and measures. This was done in some instances in the proposals but was not always presented as clearly as, or in conjunction with, the best estimates. Any estimated numbers can only be properly interpreted if considered alongside the uncertainty surrounding them and the Panel recommends that this should always be done in proposals.

13. In all three listing proposals, a key uncertainty was the relationship between trends estimated or observed in local populations or aggregations and any trends taking place in the abundance of the species as a whole. The Panel recognized that such information was not readily available but encourages proponents of future proposals to make greater efforts to integrate the local observations in order to estimate the trends in the species as a whole. The Panel, in the limited time available, undertook some such integrations in order to evaluate the proposals.

14. In several cases, the information in the proposals could have been presented in a manner that would have been easier to assimilate and interpret. The Panel encourages the use of figures and graphs, as far as possible, to show time-series of data, for example catches or catch rates, and spatial patterns and trends. Analysis of trends should, as far as possible, be based on appropriate statistical tests and include estimates of confidence intervals or uncertainty. It should be made clear which data have been used to make any trend estimates. Where some data, or information, have been omitted, the reasons for their omission should be stated in order to avoid giving the impression of subjectivity.

15. The comments received by proponents from Range States were found to be very informative when supplied and should be included in all proposals.

For consideration in reading the reports

16. In considering trends in abundance reported in the proposals, the Panel attempted to evaluate the reliability of each source of information. This was done by assigning a score between 0 (no value) and 5 (highly reliable) to each item of information used to demonstrate trends in the white shark and humphead wrasse proposals. The criteria used to assign a score are included in Table 1.

Table 1. Criteria used by the Panel to assign a measure of the reliability of information derived from different sources for use as indices of abundance. A score of 0 indicates that the information was not considered to be reliable and a score of 5 indicates that it was considered to be highly reliable. Any information on abundance allocated a non-zero value was considered to be useful. These scores could be adjusted either up or down in any particular case, depending on the length of the time-series and the amount of information that was available on the sources and methods.

Reliability index of population abundance information

Source of data or information


Statistically designed, fishery-independent survey of abundance


Consistent and/or standardized catch-per-unit effort data from the fishery


Unstandardized catch-per-unit effort data from the fishery; scientifically-designed, structured interviews; well-specified and consistent anecdotal information on major changes from representative samples of stakeholders.


Catch or trade data without information on effort


Confirmed visual observations; anecdotal impressions


Information that does not meet any of the above, or equivalent, criteria; flawed analysis or interpretation of trends

17. The Panel considered that interpretations regarding Precautionary Measures (Annex 4 of Res. Conf. 9.24) involved questions of policy rather than science and hence did not comment on application of precautionary measures in the evaluation of the proposals.

18. The details of references to other publications used in the Panel reports on each proposal can be found in the original proposals, unless otherwise indicated.

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