FAO and CITES have been working closely in order to address some of the technical difficulties of countries in fulfilling the requirements of a CITES listing and in an attempt to reconcile some differences of opinion. Some of the work has been facilitated by the Japan funded Trust Fund Project , including the evaluation of listing proposals (GCP/INT/987/JPN) being executed by FAO.
Under the endorsement of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), FAO played an active role in the revision of the CITES listing criteria for commercially-exploited aquatic species, as well as in the evaluation of proposal to amend CITES Appendices with these species. The Organization held two ad hoc Panels to evaluate listing proposals submitted to the last two Conferences of the Parties to CITES (CoP13 in 2004 and CoP14 in 2007).
A "Memorandum of Understanding between FAO and CITES" [more…] was adopted by 10th Session of the COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade in June 2006 and signed by FAO and CITES during the 54th Meeting of the Standing Committee of CITES, in October 2006. The MOU formalizes the intentions of the two Organizations in strengthening cooperation on issues related to commercially aquatic species listed on CITES Appendices and has been considered an important achievement by many FAO Member countries and Parties to CITES.
FAO has been addressing legal and implementation issues associated to the application of CITES to commercially-exploited species. The legal interpretation of the term "Introduction from the Sea" (IFS) of the Convention has received particular attention in recent years. Despite the fact that no commercially important species fished in the high seas have yet been listed on CITES Appendices, the lack of a clear understanding of the meaning of IFS and of the responsibilities of Parties with regards to species caught beyond national jurisdictions hinders the proper application of this part of the Convention.
FAO has been having also an active role in promoting capacity building of Member Countries on issues related to commercially-aquatic species listed on CITES Appendices, including sharks, queen conch, sea cucumbers and humphead wrasse.