Summary report, 8–12 April 2002

18th Meeting of the CITES Animals Committee

The 18th meeting of the Animals Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convened from 8-12 April 2002, in San José, Costa Rica. The meeting drew together about 110 participants from governments, as well as non-governmental, international and intergovernmental organizations.

Participants met in Plenary sessions to consider a number of items, including: implementation and review of Resolution Conf. 8.9 (Rev.) on significant trade reviews; periodic review of animal taxa; registering and monitoring operations breeding Appendix I species for commercial purposes; trade in traditional medicines; transport of live animals; trade in hard corals; labelling of caviar; trade in the Black Sea bottlenose dolphin; control of captive breeding, ranching and wild harvest production systems; trade in tortoises and freshwater turtles in Southeast Asia; seahorses; sharks; sturgeon; and trade in alien species.

In addition, working and contact groups were formed to address: revision of Resolution Conf. 8.9 (Rev.); significant trade reviews of species selected by the 16th meeting of the Animals Committee; captive breeding of Appendix I species; review of animal taxa; universal labelling of caviar; transport of live animals; trade in tortoises and freshwater turtles; sharks; sturgeon; hard corals; seahorses; and ex situ production and in situ conservation.

Progress was made in a number of issues, particularly on sharks, turtles, sturgeon and revision of the process of significant trade reviews. The results of the working groups and their recommendations will be considered at the 12th meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties (COP-12), which is scheduled for 3-15 November 2002, in Santiago, Chile.


During the 1960s, countries became increasingly aware that over-exploitation of wildlife through international trade was contributing to the rapid decline of many plant and animal species. In 1963, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) began drafting an international convention to regulate the export, transit and import of rare or threatened wildlife species. International commitment to establish a convention began in June 1972 at the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden, which recommended the immediate preparation of an international convention to deal with these issues. The same year, IUCN, the US and Kenya produced a unified working paper, which became the basis for convention negotiations. The final negotiations were held from 12 February to 2 March 1973, in Washington, DC. CITES was adopted on 2 March 1973, and entered into force on 1 July 1975. There are currently 158 Parties to the Convention.

The Convention's conservation goals are to: monitor and stop commercial international trade in endangered species; maintain species under international commercial exploitation; and assist countries toward a sustainable use of species through international trade. CITES Parties regulate wildlife trade through controls and regulations on species listed in three appendices. Appendix I lists species endangered due to international trade. Their exchange is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Species listed in Appendix II are subject to strictly regulated trade based on: quotas and/or permits to prevent their unsustainable use; and controls to maintain ecosystems and prevent species from becoming eligible for Appendix I. Appendix III species are subject to regulation by a Party who requires the cooperation of other Parties to control international trade. To list a species, a Party provides a proposal containing scientific and biological data on population and trade trends for Conference of the Parties (COP) approval. The proposal must be supported by a two-thirds majority of Parties present and voting at a COP. CITES only lists species whose populations are obviously impacted by international trade. At present, there are approximately 5000 fauna species and 25,000 flora species covered by CITES. As the trade impact on a species increases or decreases, the COP decides – based on technical input from the Plants and Animals Committees – whether or not the species should be shifted between or removed from Appendices.

CITES also regulates international trade through a system of permits and certificates that are required before specimens enter or leave a country. Each Party must adopt national legislation to provide official designation of a Management Authority responsible for issuing these permits and certificates based on the advice of a designated Scientific Authority. Parties maintain trade records that are forwarded to the CITES Secretariat annually, the sum of which enable it to compile statistical information on the world volume of trade in Appendix species. The national Scientific and Management Authorities also enhance CITES enforcement through cooperation with customs, police or appropriate agencies.

The operational bodies of CITES include its Standing Committee, as well as several scientific advisory committees: the Animals Committee; the Plants Committee; and their subcommittees, the Nomenclature Committee and the Identification Manual Committee. Located in Geneva, the CITES Secretariat interprets Convention provisions and assists CITES Parties and Committees.

COP-11: The eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP-11) convened from 10-20 April 2000, at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. Delegates at COP-11 considered 62 proposals to amend Appendices I and II as well as over 40 resolutions on a wide range of topics, including: the evolution of the Convention; financial matters; conservation of and trade in tigers, elephants, rhinoceros and Tibetan Antelopes; and trade in bears, freshwater turtles and tortoises, seahorses and traditional medicines. Proposals to downlist populations of gray and Minke whale and the Hawksbill turtle were defeated. Most delegates were satisfied with the outcome and championed the compromise reached on African Elephants as the triumph of COP-11.

SECOND JOINT MEETING OF THE ANIMALS AND PLANTS COMMITTEES: This meeting convened from 7-9 December 2000, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, USA, to, inter alia, discuss proposals by the Criteria Working Group on amendments to Resolution 9.24 (criteria for amendment of Appendices I and II).

SIXTEENTH MEETING OF THE ANIMALS COMMITTEE: This meeting convened from 11-15 December 2000, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, USA. The Committee addressed, inter alia: transport of live animals; trade in hard corals; traditional medicines; captive breeding and ranching; conservation of seahorses; labelling of caviar; status of sharks; trade in sturgeon, cobra and musk deer; review of animal taxa in appendices; and time-sensitive research samples.

TENTH MEETING OF THE PLANTS COMMITTEE: The Plants Committee met in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, USA, from 11-15 December 2000. The Committee addressed: follow-up of COP-11 decisions; technical proposals for COP-12, such as the definition of "artificially propagated," standard exemptions for derivatives of plant species and definitions of technical terms used in annotations for medicinal plants; species proposals for COP-12; significant trade in plants; medicinal plants; review of appendices; and checklists and nomenclature.

SEVENTEENTH MEETING OF THE ANIMALS COMMITTEE: This meeting was held from 30 July to 3 August 2001, in Hanoi, Vietnam. Participants addressed: definition of the term "critically endangered in the wild"; control of captive breeding, ranching and wild harvest production systems for Appendix II species; trade in freshwater turtles and tortoises; sturgeons; and review of animal taxa.

ELEVENTH MEETING OF THE PLANTS COMMITTEE: The Plants Committee met in Langkawi, Malaysia, from 3-7 September 2001. Participants to the meeting considered: follow-up to COP-11 decisions, such as those regarding agarwood; species and technical proposals for COP-12, such as harvesting of galanthus; medicinal plants; guidelines for transport in live plants; tree species evaluation; and trade in Mexican cacti.

46TH MEETING OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE: The Standing Committee met in Geneva, Switzerland, from 12-15 March 2002, and considered a number of items, such as: financing for species conservation; implementation of existing resolutions; Convention implementation in individual countries; late or non-submission of annual reports; and preparations for the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-12).

TECHNICAL WORKSHOP ON CONSERVATION OF AND TRADE IN FRESHWATER TURTLES AND TORTOISES: This meeting was held in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China, from 25-28 March 2002, and addressed: trade and enforcement issues; market developments; national, regional and NGO reports; and proposals to amend the CITES Appendices.


On Monday, 8 April, Zayda Trejos Esquivel, General Director of the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy’s National System of Conservation Areas, welcomed participants and highlighted Costa Rica’s environmental commitment, noting that 25% of the country is in protected areas. She added that exports in endangered species were mainly flora species, not fauna, but efforts were constantly being made to stop the illegal trade of wildlife.

Marinus Hoogmoed (the Netherlands), Chair of the Animals Committee, said that although the 11 September events might have changed the world, they did not change people’s determination to care for nature and animal species. He highlighted several important issues to be discussed during the meeting, inter alia, freshwater turtles, sharks, corals, sturgeon, and review of significant trade, and the need to finalize matters before COP-12. He noted, however, a weakness in the review of the process for listing species on appendices, particularly in collaborating with the Plants Committee, and hoped the matter would be settled at COP-12.

Chair Hoogmoed introduced, and participants adopted, the Rules of Procedure (AC18/Doc. 2), the Agenda (AC18/Doc. 3.1) and the Working Programme (AC18/Doc. 3.2).


On Monday afternoon, the Europe regional representative presented the regional report (AC18/Doc. 5.4), noting that it had held the first Europe regional meeting of Animals Committee members, thanking the German Government for its contribution that allowed Eastern European Scientific Authorities to participate.

Presenting their report (AC18/Doc. 5.5), the North America representative highlighted a planned roundtable in late April 2002 of the Scientific and Management Authorities of Canada, Mexico and the US to exchange information and coordinate regionally. Delegates adopted the North American and Europe regional reports.

On Wednesday, 10 April, the Oceania regional representative introduced the regional report, highlighting: its position on sharks; Australia’s new CITES legislation and proposed listing of great white sharks; and New Zealand’s proposed gecko listing. Delegates adopted the report.

On Friday morning, 12 April, the regional representative for Central and South America and the Caribbean presented the report of completed or continuing activities (AC18/Doc. 5.3), highlighting: meetings on vicuña management, turtles, and caimans; ongoing analysis of the problems of circuses; participation in developing sea turtle conservation strategies; and plans for a regional preparatory meeting for COP-12. The report was adopted.

Also on Friday, the Africa representative presented the regional report, including:

  • São Tome and Principe recently joined CITES;
  • communication in the region is problematic;
  • presence of coelacanth off the Kenyan coast may indicate greater distribution than previously thought;
  • Angola should be targeted for CITES membership;
  • ongoing regional training workshops have convened on ivory trade issues;
  • legal and illegal trade in amphibians and reptiles is increasing throughout the region;
  • there is regional support for Madagascar’s trade moratorium; and
  • international trade in bushmeat is increasing.

The Fund for Animals noted that the bushmeat working group has appointed information officers in five African countries to facilitate collection of data on the bushmeat trade. The David Shepherd Conservation Foundation noted her research, conducted on behalf of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), on the reptile trade in Africa, explaining particular problems with reptile exports from the Comoros and trans-shipment through South Africa. The Secretariat responded that they are aware of the situation of the Comoros, and plan to provide assistance in setting quotas. The Secretariat described a capacity-building workshop held in the Côte d’Ivoire for West African Scientific and Management Authorities, and announced plans to hold similar workshops in late 2002 for the Central and South America and the Caribbean region and in 2003 for southern and eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean islands. The report was adopted.

The Asia region did not present a report.

ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: Introducing his Chair’s report (AC18/Doc. 6.1) on Wednesday, 10 April, Chair Hoogmoed said the Standing Committee would have to find extra funding if the new Animals Committee Chair is from a developing country, and said the Secretariat should draft a report that outlines problems with the review of Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Criteria for Amendments of Appendices I and II) to be submitted to COP-12. He set a deadline for comments on the Animals Committee report to COP-12 that only allows one day of consideration, to which the Secretariat expressed concern.

Spain, supported by Mexico and the US, expressed unease about Chair Hoogmoed’s comments on the review of Resolution Conf. 9.24 made during his opening statement, contending that he did not take into account other opinions on how events occurred.

On Friday morning, 12 April, Chair Hoogmoed presented, and delegates adopted, the Admission of Observers (AC18/Doc. 4/Rev. 1).


PROGRESS ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RESOLUTION CONF. 8.9 (REV.) (REVIEW OF SIGNIFICANT TRADE): This item was discussed on Monday, 8 April, in Plenary, and in working groups on significant trade field projects and on freshwater turtles and tortoises on Wednesday and Thursday, 10-11 April. In Plenary, Chair Hoogmoed introduced Progress on the Implementation of the Review of Significant Trade (Phases IV and V) (AC18/Doc. 7.1), noting that the document was prepared by TRAFFIC and IUCN. The document contains the reviews of significant trade for sturgeon (Acipenseriformes) and freshwater turtles and tortoises. Categorization for the former was delegated to the working group on significant trade field projects, while categorization of the latter was allocated to the working group on freshwater turtles and tortoises.

ACIPENSERIFORMESAcipenser oxyrinchus: TRAFFIC stated that Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus) has been reduced from historical levels due to reduction in spawning grounds, habitat alteration and by-catch. He outlined Canadian and American legislation governing the species, and expressed concern about inconsistency in data received from both countries. He advised that the species be placed in Category 2 (species for which it is not clear whether or not the provisions of Article IV are being implemented). The US said it was looking into data discrepancies. Canada explained that fisheries for this species are decreasing because permits are not being renewed, and that the Canadian federal and provincial governments are working on this issue in a newly formalized working group. Switzerland enquired about steps taken to increase the species’ spawning grounds.

Acipenser persicus: TRAFFIC introduced documentation on Persian sturgeon (Acipenser persicus), recommending it for consideration under Category 1 (species for which the available information indicates that the provisions of Article IV are not being implemented) or Category 2. He noted the difficulty in distinguishing Persian from Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedetii). Iran noted that Russian and Persian sturgeon are distinguishable even by local fishermen based on morphology, and that all catch data and information on the two species are recorded separately by Iran. He also highlighted Iran’s restocking program for A. persicus, and called for placing the species in Category 3 (species for which the level of trade is evidently not a problem). The Russian Federation expressed support for the A. persicus management efforts by Iran.

Acipenser transmontanus: TRAFFIC explained that: the harvest of white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus), native to the Pacific coast of North America, is prohibited in Canada and banned or closely regulated in the United States; commercial harvests have increased since 1991, originating mainly from aquaculture rather than the wild; and caviar is the predominant export, although the main market is domestic. He recommended white sturgeon be placed in Category 3. Iran asked if it is possible to differentiate wild from aquaculture stock, and TRAFFIC responded that categorization is based on documentation accompanying shipments. Switzerland noted A. transmontanus aquaculture efforts in Italy.

Scaphirhynchus platorynchus: TRAFFIC introduced shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus), noting that many states in the US have not required reporting of catch, thus making it difficult to get an accurate sense of the domestic market and trade. He added that if the US intends to hold off on commercial export, the species would be recommended for Category 3, otherwise, it would be recommended for inclusion in Category 1 or 2. The US distinguished between two separate issues involving its sturgeon conservation programme: the degree to which domestic management reporting requirements are adequate to conserve the species; and how well the Management and Scientific Authorities are implementing CITES. The Secretariat recommended not considering the remaining species of sturgeon in the significant review process before COP-12 due to budgetary constraints and because trade in those species are deemed insignificant. Iran, however, said it is important to consider the remaining species given the overall decline in sturgeon.

FRESHWATER TURTLES AND TORTOISES: Cuora amboinensis: The IUCN introduced the South Asian box turtle (Cuora amboinensis), noting that the species may be declining due to over-exploitation. She stressed lack of available information on population monitoring, habitat conservation measures and management, and lack of legislation and enforcement implementation. She recommended that the species be included in Category 1. Chair Hoogmoed said this species, and the amount of specimens being exported, was recently discussed at a freshwater turtle meeting in Kunming, China.

Cuora flavomarginata: The IUCN explained that although there are no population estimates for the yellow-margined box turtle (Cuora flavomarginata), it is thought to have declined in all range States. She cited habitat degradation and loss, collection for international trade, and inadequate legislation and enforcement as problems, and recommended that the species be listed under Category 1 or 2. The Secretariat responded that the working group on freshwater turtles and tortoises will address the issue, since there is too little information to place the species in any category. The IUCN stressed that despite little reported trade, any additional trade data would necessitate non-detriment findings to preclude categorization.

Cuora galbinifrons: The IUCN said the primary threat to the Indochinese box turtle (Cuora galbinifrons) is from harvesting throughout its range States, despite occurring in a number of protected areas. She recommended that the species be placed in Category 1.

Lissemys punctata: The IUCN reported that the Indian flapshell turtle (Lissemys punctata) was placed on Appendix II in 1995, and that its main threat is habitat degradation and collection for domestic consumption and export. She said significant domestic use, which endangers sustainability of harvesting, is the basis for the recommendation that this species be placed in Category 2.

Pyxis planicauda: The IUCN reported on the flat-tailed spider tortoise (Pyxis planicauda), recommending it for inclusion in Category 1. She said export data is incomplete and established quotas have varied greatly and have been exceeded in recent years. The US shared trade data that Pyxis planicauda and Pyxis arachnoidae imports were larger than indicated in the IUCN report. The David Shepherd Conservation Foundation added information from her analysis, conducted on behalf of IFAW, of export permits on file in Madagascar, showing that the export quota had been exceeded in 2000 and 2001.

The working group on freshwater turtles and tortoises, chaired by the Europe regional representative, discussed categorization of the five species that underwent review on Wednesday evening, 10 April.

OTHER MATTERS: Chair Hoogmoed noted the need to revisit the categorization of the sturgeon species that underwent significant trade reviews, as well as musk deer (Moschus moschiferusMoschus berezovskii, and Moschus chrysogaster) and cobra (Naja naja), which were not evaluated at previous meetings. This matter was considered by a working group on significant trade field projects, chaired by the Africa regional representative, which met on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

REVIEW OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RECOMMENDATIONS: On Monday, the Secretariat said it would continue to review recommendations formulated as part of the significant trade review process and is working on a comprehensive database of all listed species and recommendations. He said the database should be available by the next Animals Committee meeting.

REVISION OF RESOLUTION CONF. 8.9 (REV.) AND DECISIONS 11.106 - 11.108: This item was discussed in Plenary on Monday, 8 April, and in a working group on Wednesday and Thursday, 10-11 April. In Plenary, the Secretariat introduced proposed revisions to Resolution Conf. 8.9 (Rev.) and Decisions 11.106 – 11.108, the process for significant trade review (AC18/Doc. 7.3), with the goal of simplifying and consolidating the Resolution’s implementation and clarifying responsibilities. The US, with Mexico, India and Israel, called for adequate time for document review. The US questioned proposals regarding removal or redefinition of Categories 1 and 2 and primary and secondary recommendations. Mexico supported facilitation and simplification of the way significant trade recommendations are handled. India, the Humane Society of the US, and IFAW underlined the importance of imposing timeframes, and the International Wildlife Coalition (IWC) supported coordination with scheduling of the COPs. The David Shepherd Conservation Foundation emphasized the use of trade suspensions as a tool for non-compliance. TRAFFIC requested that the Resolution Conf. 8.9 (Rev.) working group consider the necessity of a high-level review after COP-12. The Secretariat noted that this first revision is a starting point from a currently limited and inflexible system, and that the effectiveness of the significant trade review correlates to available funding and the number of species under consideration. He urged regionally harmonized legislation and reporting.

On Wednesday, 10 April, the working group, chaired by Switzerland, considered: the process of selecting species to be reviewed; the process of consultation with range States concerning implementation of Article IV (Regulation of Trade in Specimens of Species on Appendix II); compilation of information and preliminary categorization; and subsequent review of information and confirmation of categorization by the Animals or Plants Committee. Participants agreed on:

  • addition of headings;
  • the unwieldy nature of UNEP/WCMC information printouts;
  • a 90-day period for range States to respond to the Secretariat’s notification of species selection;
  • the need for revision of the categories; and
  • a 90-day period for range States to respond to the consultants’ report.

On Thursday, 11 April, the group discussed: formulation of recommendations and their transmission to range States; inclusion of reference to implementation of adaptive management principles; measures to be taken if responses are unsatisfactory; monitoring of the Resolution; reporting to the COP and to the Animals and Plants Committees; reintroduction of species into the review process; support to range States; review of the Resolution’s effectiveness; guidelines for development and assessment of significant trade field projects; and relevant provisions of Resolution Conf. 11.18 (trade in Appendix II and III species). They agreed on, inter alia:

  • changing Categories 1, 2 and 3 to "species of urgent concern," "species of possible concern," and "species of least concern," respectively;
  • ensuring flexibility in determining recommendations;
  • establishing deadlines that reflect the nature of recommendations;
  • adding text on funding or assistance for implementation of recommendations;
  • maintaining a register of progress in review processes; and
  • a review of the effectiveness of the Resolution.

Participants also agreed to amalgamate preambular text on concerns regarding implementation of Article IV.

PROGRESS ON THE FIRST COUNTRY-BASED SIGNIFICANT TRADE REVIEW: On Tuesday afternoon, 9 April, Madagascar announced in Plenary that it is initiating a six-month moratorium on wildlife export due to domestic political problems and lack of a CITES Scientific Authority to monitor trade. She said permits will only be issued once a Scientific Authority is in place. The Secretariat said it will cooperate with Madagascar in combating illegal trade and hoped the situation would improve so that a CITES mission to Madagascar could support capacity building. As one of the largest importers of wildlife from Madagascar, the US expressed concern with the situation and offered to assist with developing national laws to prevent the illegal trade of species. The David Shepherd Conservation Foundation noted that the illegal trade of Madagascar species through the Comoros could circumvent the moratorium.

SIGNIFICANT TRADE FIELD PROJECTS FOR ANIMALS: This item was discussed in Plenary on Monday, 8 April. The Secretariat explained that in July 1992, the Animals Committee adopted guidelines for development and assessment of animal trade field projects. After reviewing the guidelines, the Secretariat questioned their validity, but suggested that some sections of the guidelines may still be relevant. Chair Hoogmoed added that no field projects had been initiated by the Animals Committee.

Switzerland objected to abolishing the guidelines, the IWC stressed the importance of peer review in projects, and the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Organization emphasized clearing-house mechanisms to promote information flow. The IUCN said that in her organization’s experience, the guidelines have not been useful. The Species Survival Network (SSN) said an operations manual would be helpful, and Safari Club International called for modification of the guidelines. On Thursday, 11 April, the guidelines were discussed in the working group examining the revision of Resolution Conf. 8.9 (Rev.). The group decided that the guidelines do not contribute significantly to the other material already available regarding field project methodology, although a standard methodology should be followed where possible.


This item was discussed in Plenary on Tuesday, 9 April, and in a working group on Thursday, 11 April. In Plenary, North America, serving as the working group Chair, reported on intersessional activities, including the development of review guidelines (AC18/Doc.8.1/ Annex 4) and a rapid assessment technique for the review of animal taxa (AC18/Inf. 13).

PARNASSIUS APOLLO: Spain reviewed the status of the Apollo butterfly (Parnassius apollo), recommending that it remain on Appendix II. He said the species has been extirpated in three of its twenty range States and threats to the species are primarily due to collection and habitat destruction. He added that legal trade for this species is low, although illegal trade is believed to be significant. The Secretariat noted that morphological differences of isolated populations are attractive to traders and enquired whether illegal trade is still a major threat. Spain responded that there is illegal catch, although listing under CITES discourages illegal trade and provides a way to track species data. Germany, supported by Europe and the IWC, said that consultation with butterfly specialists in Germany confirmed that collection is still a threat, and that CITES provides a necessary legal instrument to address regional trade.

ANAS AUCKLANDICA: Oceania introduced a review of Brown, Campbell Island and Auckland Islands teal (Anas aucklandica chlorotis, Anas aucklandica nesiotis, and Anas aucklandica aucklandica), stating that trade in these species is very low and could not be expected to be a significant factor in their long-term survival. He added, however, that it is unclear whether de-listing or downlisting to Appendix II will have any impact on commercial demand. Switzerland said that these species should be downlisted from Appendix I to II since they are traded in small quantities and are easily bred in captivity. The UK said that the species meets the biological criteria, but doubted the trade criteria, for a continued listing on Appendix I.

CNEMIDOPHORUS HYPERYTHUS: The US reported that the orange-throated whiptail lizard (Cnemidophorus hyperythus), found in California and Mexico, is threatened mainly by habitat destruction, with international trade limited to museum specimens. Pointing out that both California and Mexico have protection legislation in place, he recommended de-listing the species. Israel objected, maintaining that there is not enough information to de-list. The Humane Society of the US said it is difficult to ascertain the impacts of small levels of trade with minimal information. The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies expressed doubt that CITES provisions are protecting the species.

REVIEW OF THE GUIDELINES FOR THE PERIODIC REVIEW OF ANIMAL TAXA: Discussing the matter in Plenary on Tuesday, 9 April, the US explained that the draft guidelines cover three areas: the objective of the periodic review process; identification of species to be reviewed; and process for future reviews. Chair Hoogmoed, and others, questioned the exclusion of high "visibility" species. The IWC explained that high visibility species were excluded to reduce biases based on political agendas. Oceania called for a study to determine if reduced trade after a review is due to CITES or to other factors. The Netherlands stressed that a review may lead to uplisting, and therefore should examine species with high levels of trade.

Chaired by the US, the working group on the review of animal taxa met on Thursday, 11 April, to consider: draft guidelines for the periodic review of animal taxa including; the rapid assessment technique for species to be reviewed; and the process for future reviews; and the three species reviews presented on Tuesday, 9 April. Regarding the draft guidelines, delegates agreed that:

  • the introduction needs reworking;
  • the rapid assessment technique needs additional development; and
  • they would continue work on the process for future reviews.

On the three species reviewed, the group agreed to: retain Parnassius apollo on Appendix II; retain Anas aucklandica on Appendix I, noting that although there is no conservation benefit, biological criteria indicate it should remain there; and remove Cnemidophorus hyperythus from Appendix II. The group also agreed that completion of outstanding reviews should be pursued.


This item was discussed in Plenary on Tuesday, 9 April, and in a working group on Wednesday and Thursday, 10-11 April. In Plenary, the Secretariat introduced Registration and Monitoring of Operations Breeding Appendix I Species for Commercial Purposes (AC18/Doc. 9), which call for a pilot project to compile three alternative lists of Appendix I species that are considered difficult to keep or breed in captivity (Annex 3). The completed project was limited to Appendix I reptile species and reptiles evaluated by the IUCN as being "critically endangered," "endangered" or "vulnerable." The IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group described the report, noting the project is designed to facilitate implementation of captive breeding provisions, but that the results do not address the relationship between ex situ captive production systems and in situ conservation and management. He also said that there was difficulty reconciling the IUCN Red List with Appendix I listings.

The working group discussed issues contained in the report (AC18/ Inf. 11) on captive breeding of Appendix I species. The focus was on how to determine which Appendix I species is "critically endangered in the wild and/or difficult to breed or keep in captivity." Issues raised in the working group on Wednesday included: whether to consider species at a global, regional or national scale; whether to consider subspecies; the disconnect between countries’ national legislation; and the rights of States to place species on Annex III, the list of species difficult to breed or keep in captivity. Delegates debated establishing new criteria or returning to past requirements that breeding facilities register through the Secretariat. Most delegates supported the definition of "critically endangered" as a species categorized as such by IUCN, or requested by a range State to be included on Annex 3.

In working group discussions on Thursday, 11 April, most delegates agreed on the right of range States to place species on Annex 3, defined as the list of species that are: categorized by the IUCN as critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable; or difficult to breed in captivity; or nominated by a range State for inclusion. Delegates expressed concern that it may be difficult to establish a list for Annex 3 that is different than Appendix I, and therefore "the effort may be unproductive." Some participants proposed finding commonalities between species examples that meet the agreed criteria. Discussion covered issues considered outside the scope of the working group’s mandate, including introduction of new genetic material to breeding stock and simplification of the registration process for breeding facilities. The working group recommended that further work is needed to examine or review the process of registration of facilities that breed Appendix I species.


This item was addressed in Plenary on Tuesday, 9 April, and in a contact group that met informally. In Plenary, the Secretariat introduced the document (AC18/Doc. 10), emphasizing that captive breeding should not harm in situ conservation, and raising the possibility of adopting a risk assessment approach. Chile observed that economic benefits of captive breeding and market mechanisms could support conservation in range areas. The World Association of Zoos and Aquaria (WAZA) emphasized focusing on negative socioeconomic and intellectual property aspects of captive breeding. The Secretariat said socioeconomic issues cannot be separated from conservation. Project Seahorse urged the Animals Committee to examine captive breeding with either no conservation impact or a positive impact on in situ conservation, and supported the use of risk assessment. The Secretariat will recommend to COP-12 that this matter be kept on the Animals Committee agenda.


This item was discussed in Plenary on Tuesday, 9 April, and in a working group on Thursday, 11 April. In Plenary, Germany, Chair of the working group, presented the report of the group’s work (AC18/ Doc. 11.1), including collecting data on transport injury and mortality, review and adoption of related guidelines, and establishment of an animal transport database. Europe noted mortality issues before and after transportation, urging consideration of issues such as animal welfare laws. Switzerland stressed the importance of training airport personnel and ensuring proper airport facilities. WAZA noted they are offering related courses in Europe.

Discussion in the working group focused on implementation of Resolution Conf. 10.21, and consideration of a report on the results of a study on mortality data, with the group agreeing that the issue warrants further attention using different methods. The group stressed that concentrating on the period of transport alone is not enough, and that a broader perspective is needed. The group called for, inter alia, enforcement of the Resolution by incorporating International Air Transport Association (IATA) Live Animals Regulations "either in domestic legislation of Parties or as a condition of permits." On the ongoing development of standards for animal transport and an associated database, the working group is combining input from IATA standards and information on procedures used by zoological associations.


Corals were discussed in Plenary on Tuesday, 9 April, and in a working group on Thursday, 11 April. The UK, working group Chair, introduced the report on trade in hard corals (AC18/Doc. 12.1), advising the Secretariat on coral genera recognition at the genus and species level. He noted difficulties with identifying corals, both live and dead, since there is a minimum of 600 reef-building coral species currently in trade, many similar in appearance. He recommended that corals be identified on permits at the genus level when it is not possible to identify a specimen at the species level. The Animal Committee adopted the report.

The working group discussed a report, prepared by the US, on coral production systems that observed a lack of agreement on marking systems to distinguish cultured from wild corals. Noting little or no agreement or understanding on the proper and consistent application of CITES source codes for cultured corals, the working group proposed the following source codes: "w" for wild, maricultured or farmed corals; "f" for aquacultured corals; "c" for captive bred or cultured corals; and "r" for ranched corals. The group also considered techniques and marking systems to distinguish cultured from wild-taken corals, and called for an ecosystem approach to the management of corals harvested for export. The working group also addressed:

  • use of the appropriate CITES articles in non-detriment findings;
  • recognition of coral at either the species or genus level;
  • taxonomic reference to corals;
  • identification guides;
  • distinguishing fossilized from non-fossilized corals; and
  • synergy with other initiatives and agreements.


This item was discussed in Plenary on Tuesday, 9 April.

SPECIES TRADED FOR MEDICINAL PURPOSES: In Plenary, IFAW introduced the List of Species Traded for Medicinal Purposes (AC18/Doc. 13.1), stating that records are often unclear on current medicinal use and international trade of CITES-listed species for medicinal purposes. The Secretariat emphasized that resources do not exist for more research. China said the significant trade review process already addresses concerns regarding trade in traditional medicines. The Animal Welfare Institute called for an investigation into alternatives to CITES-listed species. The US suggested that the List should be organized by taxonomy, and include common names, CITES species traded as derivatives or parts, geographic distribution, levels of trade, countries of origin, importing countries, source codes, and use in modern medicinal systems. The Humane Society of the US suggested forwarding information on the tiger trade to the Standing Committee. The Secretariat proposed, and delegates supported, convening a contact group that would communicate over e-mail to discuss the matter.

CAPTIVE BREEDING OF CITES SPECIES FOR MEDICINAL PURPOSES: Introducing the report (AC18/Doc. 13.2) in Plenary, the Secretariat called for the compilation of an inventory of CITES species used for traditional medicines. He acknowledged the benefit of having a tracking procedure, questioned the inventory’s conservation value, and asked for advice from the Animals Committee on how to proceed. North America, supported by Oceania, suggested identifying cases with conservation benefits to establish the need for the inventory.


EVALUATION OF CROCODILE RANCHING OPERATIONS: In Plenary on Tuesday, 9 April, the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group reported on their research on crocodile ranching operations, production, and the global crocodile skin trade. He said that, with funding, it would be possible to monitor the effects of ranching on wild populations. He noted ranching issues, such as: compliance with reporting requirements; admixture of stock from ranches and captive breeding operations; and source coding. Chair Hoogmoed proposed that the Animals Committee continue to consider crocodile ranching at its next meeting, with the possibility of addressing non-crocodilian species. Germany supported the idea of considering the question of ranching in cases such as parrots and invertebrates.

On Wednesday, 10 April, the Secretariat noted in Plenary that minimal progress had been made on this issue due to terminology and implementation problems related to possible changes in source codes. He added that it would be difficult for Management Authorities to support changes in production system definitions in the Convention. IUCN was contracted to prepare a report classifying production systems. The US, Germany, and others supported the Secretariat’s comments, while Europe was pleased that source codes would not be changed. The David Shepherd Conservation Foundation and IWC expressed concern that ranching source codes were being abused to circumvent CITES quotas. The Chair said the issue would be further discussed at the next Animals Committee meeting.


This item was discussed in Plenary on Tuesday, 9 April, and in a joint caviar labelling/conservation of sturgeon contact group on Monday, 8 April, and in a working group on Wednesday and Thursday, 10-11 April. Introducing the report from the working group’s intersessional activities on labelling of caviar (AC18/Doc. 15.1 and 15.2), Oceania, working group Chair, explained that the Resolution on caviar does not address labelling in the case of re-exportation. The Secretariat highlighted a suggestion on merging resolutions on caviar and sturgeon and added that almost all Caspian Sea countries have implemented the labelling system for caviar export, and many Black Sea countries are in the process of doing so.

On Wednesday, 10 April, the working group met to revise its draft document for COP-12. Delegates agreed on several definitions, inter alia, primary container, secondary container, re-packing plant and non-reusable label. There was also discussion regarding caviar tins, in which one delegate stressed the need to differentiate between first filling of a tin in the country of origin and re-packaging in the receiving country. Another delegate stressed the need to mention domestic trade. The working group agreed on the document’s recommendations, particularly on the need to be flexible regarding different national laws.


This item was discussed in Plenary on Tuesday and Wednesday. In Plenary, the US presented results of the report (AC18/Doc. 16.1 and AC18/Inf. 2) on the biological and trade status of the Black Sea bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus ponticus). She noted a Resolution of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS) banning importation of this species and, as in the Bern Convention, calling for the species’ transfer to Appendix I. Oceania, with the UK, Switzerland and World Conservation Trust of Switzerland (IWMC-CH), noted that the level of reported trade and population statistics do not indicate a large trade effect compared to other impacts. The US urged that further threats, including trade, be avoided. Israel opposed the imposition of a zero export quota, and with IFAW and Pro Wildlife, called for endorsing the ACCOBAMS recommendation. Israel and the US suggested that the Animals Committee make a clear recommendation to COP-12 on this issue. Germany pointed out that uplisting requires certain biological criteria, but does not require that trade be the most significant threat.

During continued Plenary discussion, Spain stated that there is no biological basis for the proposed uplisting. Europe noted that the species is traded primarily for dolphin shows, and supported an Appendix I listing. North America proposed that the ACCOBAMS species status report be forwarded to COP-12. Chair Hoogmoed said that, based on data showing the dolphin population as stable or increasing and indicating trade is minor, no uplisting is needed. Oceania, supported by North America and Central and South America and the Caribbean, called for caution in stating the population is stable or increasing. Africa suggested asking the International Whaling Commission what is considered a reasonable offtake. The Secretariat noted an upcoming meeting with Black Sea range States on sturgeon, where this matter could also be discussed, to which Chair Hoogmoed agreed, deferring the issue to a subsequent Animals Committee meeting.


Trade in freshwater turtles and tortoises was considered in Plenary on Wednesday morning, and in a working group on Wednesday and Thursday, 10-11 April. In Plenary, Chair Hoogmoed and the Secretariat introduced the report from a workshop on freshwater turtles and tortoises (AC18/Inf. 12), held in March 2002 in Kunming, China. The workshop’s findings included:

  • all Asian range States have conservation problems due to trade;
  • all participating countries are undertaking actions to address these conservation problems;
  • there is more legislation than originally thought by the Secretariat, although compliance and enforcement are inadequate;
  • commercial turtle and tortoise farming is more extensive than anticipated; and
  • collaboration among range States is welcomed by all participants.

India highlighted substantial illegal trade in the Kachuga species, and requested a co-proponent for a proposal to COP-12 for Appendix II listing.

The working group’s goal was to revise recommendations regarding the conservation and trade of freshwater turtles and tortoises in Southeast Asia. Delegates expressed the need for all Parties, not just Asian countries, to collaborate on conservation and trade issues, as the trade extends beyond the region. There was also a call to enhance cooperation on law enforcement at the intra-regional and international level. Delegates further noted the need for Parties to report to the Secretariat on implementation progress and to consider ways the Secretariat could support funding needs in relation to the Resolution. One delegate supported continuing the working group after COP-12 to follow up on implementation recommendations.


This item was discussed in Plenary on Wednesday and in a working group on Thursday. Highlighting aspects from the Syngnathidae report (AC18/Doc. 18.1), Project Seahorse cited key findings, including:

  • there is considerable taxonomic confusion;
  • Syngnathidae biology remains unknown, despite increasing research;
  • heavy trade exists in certain genera;
  • many countries are involved in trade, such as the EU, which imports from 24 countries;
  • there are gaps and inconsistencies in trade data, and global volumes are higher than indicated by samples; and
  • Australia has made the most extensive efforts to manage Syngnathidae.

She announced that enough funds had been raised for a Syngnathidae workshop, which will be held from 27-29 May 2002 in Cebu, the Philippines, and will generate inputs to COP-12. Responding to a question from Israel, Project Seahorse said ghost pipefish (Solenostomidae) are outside the working group’s mandate. The Animal Committee adopted the Syngnathidae report.

The working group addressed: the role of the upcoming Syngnathidae workshop in providing recommendations to the Animals Committee, particularly in reference to a potential listing proposal; endorsement of a US listing proposal; and presenting on topics for the workshop.


This item was discussed in Plenary on Wednesday, and in a working group on Thursday. Chair Hoogmoed reported on contact with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (AC18/Inf. 7) on implementation of the International Plan of Action (IPOA) for sharks. Oceania appreciated the explanation of lack of progress on the IPOA, calling for CITES to be more proactive. Oceania stated that Australia is preparing a national plan of action (NPOA) (AC18/Inf. 1), which stresses protection of sharks through CITES and support for NPOAs. Japan supported collaboration with the FAO, and, with IWMC-CH, expressed concern over consideration of non-CITES species. The Chair noted this issue will likely be on the COP-12 agenda and that two shark species are on CITES Appendix III. The IUCN Shark Specialist Group: presented the report of implementation of IPOAs (AC18/Doc. 19.2 and AC18/Inf. 10); expressed concern at the lack of action; called for CITES to take a more active role; and, with the IWC and the UK, and opposed by Japan, urged consideration of the topic at COP-12. India commended the IUCN report, noting that illegal shark trade is occurring in his country. The UK reminded delegates of their unsuccessful proposal at COP-11 to list basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) on Appendix II, and said they will make the same proposal at COP-12. IFAW suggested forwarding World Wildlife Fund recommendations on the conservation and management of sharks (AC18/Inf. 15) to COP-12.

On Thursday, the working group, chaired by Europe, discussed the report on the implementation of the IPOA for sharks. The Chair noted lack of progress being made on fisheries management, particularly the implementation of the FAO voluntary IPOA, and suggested that more progress could be made if CITES strengthened involvement. Delegates, however, noted increasing cooperation between CITES and the FAO on shark and fisheries issues, and said that a memorandum of understanding could be developed at COP-12. One delegate said the role of the Animals Committee should be limited as long as shark species are not Appendix-listed and that resources should be spent on listed species, while other delegates emphasized the need to discuss the shark issue in the context of future proposed listings. A majority of the working group agreed that further discussion on the potential role of CITES on sharks merits an agenda item at COP-12.


Oceania, Chair of the working group, introduced the report (AC18/ Doc. 20.1). He noted that there was a lack of intersessional progress due to time and resource constraints, and that the group is still in the process of drafting a list of invasive species. He recommended continuing work with IUCN/Species Survival Commission, IUCN/ Species Specialist Group the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on this issue. Chile said the Global Invasive Species Programme could help link CITES and the CBD. Israel noted that it has begun work on an extensive risk assessment of invasive species imports. The Animal Committee adopted the report.


This item was discussed in Plenary on Wednesday, and in a joint caviar labelling/conservation of sturgeon contact group on Thursday. The Secretariat introduced the document on Acipenseriformes (AC18/ Doc. 21), which reports on progress made to implement conservation measures by all Parties involved in the sturgeon trade. He said this is a high priority issue and that it was the task of the Animals Committee to review the report and forward recommendations to COP-12. The Russian Federation highlighted the joint management of Caspian Sea sturgeon stocks. The US noted that the document shows commitment from Parties on a controversial issue and is an example of how CITES Parties can agree on a common goal. Iran underlined considerable implementation progress, and the International Caviar Importers Association noted a decrease in illegal fishing in the past three years. IWMC-CH congratulated the range States for cooperation on this issue.

In the working group on Wednesday night, participants discussed the Secretariat’s document on the conservation of Acipenseriformes. On Thursday, delegates clarified and prioritized additional recommendations for COP-12 consideration.


On Friday, 12 April, the Chairs of the various working groups presented reports of their meetings.

REVISION OF RESOLUTION CONF. 8.9 (REV.): The working group Chair presented the report, stating that the group had reached consensus on all matters. He highlighted recommended changes in the Resolution, including: improved definition of the categories; more flexibility in determining recommendations for actions; and more appropriate deadlines for implementation of actions. China expressed concern with a paragraph on reviewing recommendations for trade suspensions that have been in place for over two years, preferring more encouraging, rather than punishing, language. The Secretariat agreed to revise the language to take into account China’s concerns. Israel, supported by India and the Humane Society of the US, objected to reference to adaptive management procedures, which are not defined within CITES. Safari Club International explained that work on these procedures is being done in the CBD. The Humane Society of the US questioned identical timeframes for implementation of actions for species of "urgent" and species of "possible" concern, and the working group Chair said there was flexibility as to the type of action recommended. Agreeing that the report’s version of the revised Resolution would be kept for the Plants Committee to discuss, delegates adopted the report.

SIGNIFICANT TRADE FIELD PROJECTS FOR ANIMALS: The group’s Chair reported on the working group’s consideration of species in the significant trade review process, making the following recommendations for category listing:

  • Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus): the US population in Category 3, and the Canadian population in Category 2 until Canada provides documentation about discrepancies in trade data;
  • Persian sturgeon (Acipenser persicus)species in Iran in Category 3, and species in Azerbaijan in Category 2;
  • White sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus): Category 3;
  • Shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus)Category 3;
  • Musk deer (Moschus fuscusM. berezovskii, and M. chrysogaster)Category 1; and
  • Cobra (Naja naja)Singapore in Category 2; Indonesia in Category 2; Malaysia, Thailand, and Lao PDR in Category 1; and China in Category 1, until written documentation on the trade ban is provided, at which point it would be moved to Category 3.

The group decided that Management Authorities in countries with Category 1 species should not issue export permits until they have established quotas, and requested the Secretariat to ask Singapore to provide information on how it controls and manage trans-shipment issues. The document was adopted.

PERIODIC REVIEW OF ANIMAL TAXA IN THE APPENDICES: The working group Chair presented the report, highlighting that intersessional work will be conducted on the process of future reviews and stressing that the guidelines will not be sent to COP-12 or codified in any resolution. He described recommendations regarding categorization of Parnassius apolloAnas aucklandica, and Cnemidophorus hyperythrus. The IUCN offered assistance in future preparation of reviews once the guidelines are approved. IWMC-CH asked if the US, as depository of the Cnemidophorus hyperythus review, would submit a proposal on its delisting, to which the US responded affirmatively. The Committee adopted the report.

REGISTRATION AND MONITORING OF APPENDIX I CAPTIVE BREEDING OPERATIONS: The Chair of the working group on captive breeding presented the group’s report, outlining conclusions and recommendations. China maintained that the report should not go to COP-12 because it was agreed to by the majority of participants and not by consensus. Responding to this concern, Israel said that although the conclusions and recommendations do not represent full consensus, the efforts of the group did further elucidate the issues. IWMC-CH enquired about the procedure to register captive breeding facilities, and Chair Hoogmoed pointed out that the group had agreed on using procedures set out in Resolution Conf. 8.15 (Rev.). Delegates adopted the report.

TRANSPORT OF LIVE ANIMALS: The working group Chair presented the group’s report, noting that although the group had made good progress, it had not completed all assigned work. She said the group had recommended that data should not be collected using the questionnaire, and also noted that a subgroup was formed to submit advice to IATA on container requirements. The report was adopted.

TRADE IN HARD CORALS: The Chair of the working group on hard corals introduced the group’s report, as well as a report on coral production systems, drafted jointly with the US. He highlighted recommendations referring to: identification of certain genera at the species level; priorities for the development of future identification guides; and enhanced cooperation with international initiatives pertaining to coral reefs. He said future references should be to "stony" corals. Oceania requested that the coral production systems issue be further explored. The Secretariat said a recommendation would be made at COP-12 to keep trade in stony corals on the agenda. The US expressed concern with the definition given for fossilized corals, stating that the current formulation might affect the status of related CITES species. Belgium asked about new identification guides to be produced, and the US said work is ongoing. Delegates adopted the report.

UNIVERSAL LABELLING OF CAVIAR/CONSERVATION OF STURGEON: The group’s Chair noted recommendations from their consensus report such as:

  • adoption of a uniform labelling system for exports to include re-export to cover domestic trade;
  • recognition of population structure and genetic stocks for genetic typing to aid enforcement;
  • contacting the FAO for assistance with long-term management of sturgeon stocks; and
  • consideration of socioeconomic aspects of sturgeon trade.

The US stated it is unable to support provisions on the labelling of caviar for domestic trade. The document was adopted.

TORTOISES AND FRESHWATER TURTLES: The group’s Chair reported that it considered the review of significant trade sheets for five species, recommending:

  • Cuora ambionensis for Category 1;
  • Cuora flavomarginata for Category 2 for China and Category 3 for Japan;
  • Cuora galbinifrons for Category 2;
  • Lissemys punctata for Category 2; and
  • Pyxis planicauda for Category 1, considering the political situation in Madagascar and the proposed moratorium on all wildlife exports.

Incorporating the results of the Kunming workshop, the working group proposed revision of Resolution Conf. 11.9 to reflect, inter alia:

  • consensus of States to include all tortoises and freshwater turtles in trade on the Appendices;
  • the need to strengthen regional cooperation for management and enforcement; and
  • further development of action plans.

India stressed its intention to propose all species of Kachuga for Appendix II. The document was adopted.

SEAHORSES AND OTHER SYNGNATHIDAE: The Chair of the working group on Syngnathidae reported on possible species listing proposals and on activities in preparation for the Syngnathidae workshop to be held in May 2002 in the Philippines. The working group report was adopted.

BIOLOGICAL AND TRADE STATUS OF SHARKS: A representative of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group presented on the meeting of the working group, noting one delegation’s statement of intention not to join any consensus points. Remarking on minimal progress with IPOA, despite significant trade activity, the group called for strengthening CITES’ assistance to Parties in implementing national shark management plans. Noting some species qualify for uplisting, the group recommended that the Secretariat prioritize shark fisheries management and include sharks as an agenda item at COP-12. The group expressed consensus on the need to raise concerns with FAO over lack of implementation of the IPOA and continue activities beyond COP-12. The document was adopted.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EX SITU PRODUCTION AND IN SITU CONSERVATION: Chair Hoogmoed noted the work of a small contact group on the relationship between ex situ production and in situ conservation, and outlined plans for continued consideration of the issue. Delegates discussed conduct of this group, future participation, and raised the issue of tracking origins of founder stock for ex situ breeding operations. The Chair supported North America and Oceania’s offer to continue consideration of the subject, and suggested that delegations submit comments in response to the Secretariat’s past notification on the topic. The document was noted as the basis for further consideration by members of the Animals Committee.

CLOSURE OF THE MEETING: In closing, stating that this was his last Animals Committee meeting as Chair and as Europe regional representative, Chair Hoogmoed thanked everyone for their support, delegates for their contributions, and the Secretariat for their help. The US, with Chair Hoogmoed and the Secretariat, thanked the Government of Costa Rica for their hospitality. Oceania thanked Chair Hoogmoed for his work. Tanzania announced that it wishes to host the next Animals Committee meeting. Chair Hoogmoed closed the meeting at 1:10 pm.


As Costa Ricans woke to the election of a new President on Monday morning, 8 April, delegates to the 18th meeting of the CITES Animals Committee started their deliberations. Despite a sometimes chaotic agenda, with many outstanding issues remaining from the previous two Animals Committee meetings in Shepherdstown and Hanoi, participants commended the Secretariat for moving issues forward and keeping the meeting on track. A few delegates expressed concern, however, that some issues were allowed to slip through the cracks, such as trade in traditional medicines and in alien species. But, with twelve working groups meeting around the clock within only a two-day period, it’s not surprising that all agenda issues could not be given full attention. In particular, many delegates were pleased with what they considered real progress on several key topics, especially those relating to sharks, turtles and sturgeon, as well as streamlining the significant trade review process. The full success of the work on these issues, however, won’t be known until their consideration at COP-12 later this year. Although the Animals Committee is technically a CITES scientific advisory board, political and economic concerns were never far from the debates at hand. In the words of one participant, "the politics of science is unavoidable, but regrettable."

This analysis will look at progress made with species protection, pro-active initiatives by Madagascar, regional and NGO representation, and their implications for COP-12.


SHARK SCARE: The listing of sharks on CITES appendices has long been a controversial topic. Although available trade and biological data indicate that many shark species are in serious decline, shark listings on CITES appendices have been largely avoided as they would open up a "can of worms" for listing other fish and marine species, something several Parties are opposed to. However, delegates at this meeting were not afraid to revisit the topic and, in fact, adopted several recommendations that will bring the issue forward, including the need for CITES Parties to assist the FAO in the implementation of the International Plan of Action for Sharks, and to continue the discussion under a COP-12 agenda item. Proposals to list three threatened species of shark on Appendix II were rejected at COP-11, but new proposals will be submitted for COP-12 consideration.

TURTLE TRADE: The turtle trade is alive and well in Asia, but the Animals Committee is moving ahead to find ways to curb it by recommending the listing of all Asian tortoises and freshwater turtles on the Appendices in coming years. As ambitious as it sounds, delegates felt that the listings would be possible considering the new strong cooperation among range, importing and exporting States, exemplified by the consensus that emerged at a recent workshop on the issue in Kunming, China. Four Asian box turtles were listed at COP-11, with five additional species recently considered under the significant trade review process. There are still many unprotected species left, and Germany, the US and India are expected to submit proposals for additional listings by COP-12. Due to the seriousness of the trade, delegates expressed a desire to continue the working group well beyond COP-12 to monitor implementation and enforcement.

STURGEON SUSTAINABILITY: Regional cooperation made caviar labelling and sturgeon conservation another relative success story of the meeting. Much of this success was based on highly productive discussions between a constructive mix of technical experts, exporters, producers and conservationists from range States. Together they produced a draft resolution for COP-12, which proposes a new system to extend labelling requirements for exporters and re-exporters, as well as for domestic trade. Delegates also examined creative solutions for sturgeon conservation, but expressed caution that this issue could become contentious since it begins to address the socioeconomic aspects involved in production and trade.


Many delegates noted significant progress on the revision of Resolution Conf. 8.9 (Rev.), which streamlines the significant trade review process. Delegates expressed satisfaction regarding proposed revisions, including improved definition of categories, increased support for range States, and more flexibility in determining recommendations for action. The long-standing debate over registration of commercial captive breeding facilities for Appendix I species, however, proved again to be a thorny issue. No progress was made on the issue as old North-South debates on founder stock and genetic resources resurfaced. The working group was unable to agree on how to go forward and recommended that the COP retain the status quo.


Eyebrows were raised when Madagascar announced it was initiating a six-month moratorium on all wildlife trade in the face of serious domestic political problems and inability to comply with CITES rules and regulations. With no Scientific Authority in place in Madagascar, the Secretariat�s first country-based significant trade review is on hold until further notice. Although many delegates sympathized with the situation in Madagascar and the country�s efforts to promote conservation under difficult circumstances, some expressed concern that the illegal trade of wildlife could easily bypass the moratorium. The Secretariat also expressed concern and is anxiously awaiting official communication from Madagascar to enact the moratorium so that Parties can refuse imports, and thereby ensure that Madagascar�s valuable species are not increasingly threatened.


As usual, NGO participation was high, with prominent organizations submitting scientific data and research results for discussion. Many delegates believe that NGOs are an essential part of the Animals Committee�s deliberations and recommendations, something often not found in other environmental processes. However, some delegates noticed a significant lack of NGO representation from developing countries, as well as regional under-representation from Africa, Asia and Oceania. There was concern that this unbalanced representation skews the playing field and can steer the agenda.


Delegates observed increased cooperation and more open communication among Parties and participants at the 18th Animals Committee meeting. The success stories may not have been possible without this spirit of cooperation. Delegates expressed optimism that the progress made in Costa Rica will carry over to the COP later this year in Santiago, Chile.


CAPACITY BUILDING WORKSHOP FOR SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES: This workshop will be held from 29 April to 1 May 2002, in Nadi, Fiji, and will focus on CITES implementation in small island developing States. For more information, contact: CITES Secretariat; tel: +41-22-917-8139; fax: +41-22-797-3417; e-mail:; Internet:

12TH MEETING OF THE CITES PLANTS COMMITTEE: This meeting will take place from 13-17 May 2002, in Leiden, the Netherlands. For more information, contact: CITES Secretariat; tel: +41-22-917-8139; fax: +41-22-797-3417; e-mail:; Internet:

SECOND WIDER CARIBBEAN RANGE STATES HAWKSBILL TURTLE DIALOGUE MEETING: This meeting will be held from 21-23 May 2002, in Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands. For more information, contact: CITES Secretariat; tel: +41-22-917-8139; fax: +41-22-797-3417; e-mail:; Internet:

TECHNICAL WORKSHOP ON THE CONSERVATION OF SEAHORSES AND OTHER SYNGNATHIDAE: This workshop will be convened from 27-29 May 2002, in Cebu, the Philippines. Topics to be discussed include: management practices; general Syngnathid biology; and conservation status and threats. For more information, contact: CITES Secretariat; tel: +41-22-917-8139; fax: +41-22-797-3417; e-mail:; Internet:

12TH MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES (COP) TO CITES: The CITES COP will convene from 3-15 November 2002, in Santiago, Chile. For more information, contact: CITES Secretariat; tel: +41-22-917-8139; fax: +41-22-797-3417; e-mail:; Internet:

Further information


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