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CITES Basics | U.S. Participation in CITES | Marine Species in CITES | More Information

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was drafted and initially signed in 1973 in Washington. It entered into force in 1975. The treaty now has 166 Parties.

Participating countries The previous link is an external site.
CITES web site The previous link is an external site.
CITES text The previous link is an external site.
Apply for a CITES permit

CITES Basics
The structure of CITES is similar to the U.S. Endangered Species Act, in that species are listed in Appendices according to their conservation status. However, listed CITES species must also meet the test that trade is at least in part contributing to their decline. CITES regulates international trade in species of animals and plants according to their conservation status, and does not protect species from other factors which may contribute to a species' decline as would the ESA.

  • Appendix I species are species in danger of extinction, for which all commercial trade is prohibited.
  • Appendix II species are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless trade is strictly regulated. These include species that are in international trade and are vulnerable to overexploitation. Regulated trade is allowed provided that the exporting country issues a permit that includes 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 A country may unilaterally (without a vote) list in Appendix III any species which is subject to regulation within its jurisdiction for which the cooperation of other Parties is needed. Importing countries must check for export permits for the species issued by the country of origin for Appendix III species and certificates of origin from all other countries.

Countries may unilaterally list species for which they have domestic regulation in Appendix III at any time. Decisions concerning Appendix I and II species listings and resolutions are made at meetings of the Conference of the Parties, which are convened approximately every two years. The last Conference of the Parties (COP13) was convened in October, 2004, in Bangkok, Thailand. The next meeting will be in Amsterdam in the spring of 2007.

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U.S. Participation in CITES
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of the Department of the Interior is the lead agency for implementation of the Convention. The bulk of CITES-listed species are under USFWS jurisdiction. However, many species under the jurisdiction of NOAA Fisheries (see below) are listed, either on Appendix I or II. The NOAA Fisheries draws on the considerable expertise of its regional offices and science centers in order to participate fully in the implementation of CITES for species under its jurisdiction.

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Marine Species in CITES
Some marine species whose trade is regulated by CITES include the following:

Appendix I (hundreds of species):

  • All beaked whales
  • Almost all great whales (species subject to management by the International Whaling Commission)
  • All marine turtles
  • Coelacanths
  • Dugongs
  • Irrawaddy River Dolphin
  • Shortnose sturgeon
  • Six fur seal species
  • Totoaba
  • Three marine dolphin species
  • Two porpoise species

Appendix II (thousands of species):

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More Information
13th Conference of the Parties (COP13) The previous link is an external site.
NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program

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