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The Expert Consultation on Legal Issues Related to CITES and Commercially-exploited Aquatic Species (full report in PDF) was held in Rome, Italy, from 22 to 25 June 2004 in response to the agreement by the twenty-fifth session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) that an expert consultation should be convened to address two issues related to the CITES:
  • applications of the phrase "introduction from the sea" in the definition of trade in article I of the CITES Convention text and

  • an analysis of the legal implications of the existing CITES listing criteria and the CITES Convention itself in relation to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea ("the 1982 Convention") and related international law covering fisheries.

While recognizing a divergence of views on the respective roles of the different bodies, the Consultation agreed that it was necessary to look for synergies between FAO, regional fishery management organizations (RFMOs) and CITES with respect to commercially-exploited aquatic species. It further considered it important to look at the general relationship between CITES, the 1982 Convention and related international law covering fisheries before considering the more specific legal implications of the application of CITES in relation to commercially-exploited aquatic species including the term "introduction from the sea". For purposes of clarifying the latter phrase it elaborated firstly on the term "introduction" and secondly on the term "from the sea".

While dealing with the legal issues arising from the Criteria and CITES Listing Proposals, the experts acknowledged the potential flexibility of CITES and considered also the relationship between CITES and the 1982 Convention, the relationship between CITES and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the legal aspects of the Look-Alike and Split-Listing Provisions as well as the relationship between CITES and regional fisheries management organizations.

The Consultation agreed on the list of recommendations that draws attention to actions that it considered would lead to improvements in the legal interpretation and implementation of CITES in relation to commercially-exploited aquatic species. The recommendations emphasize close consultation between FAO and CITES to address the issues and possible actions highlighted by the Consultation.

In accordance with a decision adopted at CoP13 and the guidance provided by the Standing Committee at its 53rd meeting (Geneva, June July 2005), a CITES workshop on "Introduction from the Sea" issues was held in Geneva in 2005. The workshop report, which included a draft resolution with a definition of the term "marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any State", was submitted to the endorsement of the 54th Meeting of the Standing Committee to be used as a discussion paper for CoP14. Due to disagreements among Parties on the definition of the term, a Working Group was established to elaborate a revised definition to be submitted for consideration of Parties at CoP14.

The revised definition of the term "marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any State", adopted by consensus at CoP14 in Resolution Conf. 14.6 states:

‘the marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any State means those marine areas beyond the areas subject to the sovereignty or sovereign rights of a State consistent with international law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea’.

The CoP14 also adopted a Decision (14.48) that directed the Standing Committee to establish a Working Group on "Introduction from the Sea" to prepare a discussion paper and draft a revised resolution for consideration at CoP15. The discussion paper and draft resolution will consider the term 'transportation into a State', clarification of the term 'State of introduction', the process for issuing an introduction from the sea certificate as well as other issues identified for further consideration in the final report of the CITES Workshop on Introduction from the Sea Issues. FAO is a member of the Working Group and is currently developing a study on the application of the term "Introduction from the Sea" which is expected to contribute to the discussion paper and draft resolution.

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