WHY CITES IS IMPORTANT
The Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is a United Nations Treaty organization, the largest and thus most powerful of the international treaties to protect endangered animals and plants. At present, 177 countries are members (Parties) of CITES. Only Parties may propose a species for listing on Appendix I or II, and the listing requires affirmative votes of 2/3 of the Parties. Species in trade that are facing extinction may be listed on Appendix I, which bans international trade in that species or its parts.
Species that could be threatened with extinction if trade is not controlled may be listed on Appendix II. Listing on Appendix II serves to monitor and limit trade to sustainable levels by requiring exporting countries to issue permits, and permits are to be issued only after documenting that such trade will not have a detrimental effect on the specific species’ population in the wild.
CITES listings can complement existing management, particularly when international trade is a driving force behind a species’ depletion. Shark Research Institute has been attending CITES since 2002. In the case of sharks, CITES listings have been used as stop-gap measures when fisheries management entities have failed to ensure sustainable use of species in trade.
Parties agree to abide by CITES decisions. However, Parties that object to CITES listings have the option to file a “reservation”, in which case they are not bound by the listing. Norway, Japan and Iceland objected to the listing of shark species and took out reservations on the three listed shark species: Although whale sharks and basking sharks were successfully listed on Appendix II in 2002, and white sharks in 2004, all three met the criteria for Appendix I.