CITES and the Marine Breeder

CITES and the Marine Breeder

Postby DrHsu » Sat Mar 24, 2007 1:39 am

What is CITES

CITES is short for the "Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora". It is an international agreement between governments and its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

The key word to note in the above paragraph is "trade". A common misconception is that an animal or plant listed on CITES means that it is an endangered species. This is not true. It is also not a synonym for IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. CITES species are put on one of 3 lists (known as appendices) depending on the threat of trade to their survival, either currently, or in the future.

What are the CITES appendices and what do they mean?

CITES appendices are divided into 3 - Appendix I, Appendix II and Appendix III. These appendices lists species that are protected by international treaty and their degree of protection ranges from almost complete (Appendix I) to almost uncontrolled but regulated trade (Appendix III)

In a nutshell:

Appendix I species: are pretty much banned in international trade. There can be no commercial trade in these listed species. Limited non-commercial trade is allowed eg for scientific and research purposes, display in zoos, import for bona-fide breeding programs etc.

Any importation/exportation of these species requires a large amount of paperwork from both the importing and exporting countries.

Appendix II species: are permitted in international trade but is controlled by a strict system of permits and quotas.

In general, the exporting country of origin has to have some kind of yearly quota system based on scientific studies of their status in the wild and sustainable harvests etc.

Appendix III species: Regulations for Appendix III species are similar to Appendix II species. The main difference is that Appendix III species may not be globally threatened but have been listed by individual participating countries (know as Parties in the treaty) as requiring monitoring.

Captive Bred/Propogated Specimens: Any listed species that is captive bred is still subject to CITES regulations. The only difference is the following:

Captive bred specimens of Appendix I species originating from an approved CITES breeding facility are treated as CITES II - ie commercial trade allowed. Please note that these facilities have to be approved and registered by CITES Secretariat in Geneva and not just registered by the facility's country.

Captive bred specimens of Appendix II species are usually exempt from quotas but this will generally depend on the decision of the source country.

What does this all mean to the Ornamental Marine Breeder?

At this point of time, unless you are a coral farmer/seahorse breeder who depends on export.....nothing.

CITES laws do not apply to trade within a country's own borders, unless that country has it's own internal laws regarding keeping/trade/shipment across state lines etc, of CITES species.

The only species that are affected at this time are all hard corals (sclerectina), seahorses (hippocampus spp), giant clams (Tridacna spp), and live rock (essentially coral skeletons).

Sooner or later, however, more and more species may find themselves being listed and CITES regulations will be relevant then. Case in point being the US proposal to list the Bangaii Cardinal (Pterapogon kauderni) in Appendix II. We should all be at least familiar with what CITES is and how it works.

For more detailed information, please see the CITES website at
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Postby vaporize » Sun Jun 24, 2007 1:26 am

So let's say I am a seahorse breeder in Canada and I wanted to export to the US, are my seahorses still governed by CITIES ? Do I have to apply for CITIES permit to export?
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Postby Dman » Sun Jun 24, 2007 3:09 am

vaporize wrote:So let's say I am a seahorse breeder in Canada and I wanted to export to the US, are my seahorses still governed by CITIES ? Do I have to apply for CITIES permit to export?

Yes, you would have to adhere to the governing CITES regulations and to boot: because Canada is not a source country for hippocampus you might have to certify it's origin and prove the parents weren't brought into the country illegally with the original CITES import documentation that was supplied with the initial shipment. Nice huh? That pretty much goes for everything on Appendices I and II.
As a caveat, this is information I garnered as I was researching and following along with CITES decisions regarding live rock rubble some 5 or 6 years ago.
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