Queen Conch. In 1992, in response to concerns regarding high demand for the species and declining populations, the United States proposed to list the queen conch in Appendix II of CITES.
Portrait of an Oceanic Whitetip shark, (Charcharhinus longimanus). The Bahamas. Photo Credit: Brian Skerry
Sawfish. Photo Credit: Forest Samuels CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement signed by 180 nations designed to ensure that international trade in animals and plants does not threaten their survival in the wild. The treaty was drafted in Washington, D.C. in 1973 and entered into force in 1975.
Why is CITES important for Marine Species?
Because many marine species that are traded internationally are highly-migratory – they swim long distances often crossing national boundaries – their conservation can only be achieved by working collaboratively with other nations. CITES provides a legal framework to regulate the international trade of species to ensure their sustainability, and promotes cooperation among CITES member countries - also known as CITES Parties.
How does CITES work?
Species covered by CITES are listed in different appendices according to their conservation status:
- Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction and provides the greatest level of protection, including restrictions on commercial trade.
- Appendix II includes species that although currently not threatened with extinction, may become so without trade controls. Regulated trade is allowed provided that the exporting country issues a permit based on findings that the specimens were legally acquired, and the trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species or its role in the ecosystem.
- Appendix III includes species for which a country has asked other CITES Parties to help in controlling international trade. Trade in Appendix-III species is regulated using CITES export permits (issued by the country that listed the species in Appendix III) and certificates of origin (issued by all other countries).
Changes to the lists of species in Appendix I and II and to CITES Resolutions and Decisions are made at meetings of the Conference of the Parties, which are convened every two to three years. Countries may list species for which they have domestic regulation in Appendix III at any time.
NOAA's role in CITES
Under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been designated to carry out the provisions of CITES. Based on its expertise, NOAA Fisheries provides guidance and scientific support on marine issues.
NOAA Fisheries is responsible for many marine species that are listed under CITES. We draw on the considerable expertise of our regional offices and science centers to participate fully in the implementation of CITES for species under our jurisdiction.
For more information on CITES-listed marine species, please contact Laura Cimo (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Sharks and Rays Gain Protection Under CITES
2013 was marked by a historic conservation milestone for sharks and rays globally. At last year's Conference of the Parties (CoP16) in Bangkok, Thailand countries agreed to increase protection for five commercially-exploited species of sharks and manta rays. Read full story…
As a result of this action, effective September 14, 2014, international trade of oceanic whitetip shark, three species of hammerhead sharks (scalloped, smooth, and great), porbeagle shark and manta rays will require the appropriate CITES documents. Click here to learn more.
|Regional Workshops to Implement New Shark Trade Measures
West Africa (2014): Senegal, in collaboration with the government of Sierra Leone, with the support from NOAA Fisheries and the Commission Sub-Régional des Pêches (CSRP), hosted a workshop in August 2014 to facilitate the implementation of the recently adopted shark and ray listings in Appendix II of CITES (see above). In addition to providing tools and training, the workshop led to the adoption of an action plan (also available in French) identifying recommendations to address the priority needs of the West African region for the implementation and enforcement of the CITES shark and ray listings. Specific tools developed include a shark and ray guide (also available in French) for West African countries.
Latin America and Caribbean (2013): Brazil, with support from the United States and several partner organizations, hosted in December 2013 a regional workshop to assist Latin American and Caribbean countries with implementing the new shark and ray trade measures. This workshop brought together CITES Management and Scientific authorities and fisheries experts from around the world to discuss tools and strategies to assist with compliance of the new shark trade requirements. Read full story...