Informing CITES Parties: Strengthening science‐based decision‐making when listing marine species

Friedman K, Braccini M, Bjerregaard‐Walsh M, et al (2020) Informing CITES Parties: Strengthening science‐based decision‐making when listing marine species. Fish Fish 21:13–31.

International trade in vulnerable marine species is regulated once they are listed in CITES Appendices (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Parties to the Convention submit proposal(s) 150 days prior to the CITES Conference for voting on the inclusion of new species in Appendices I and II, making a case for why CITES listing criteria are met in each case. Before the vote, Parties receive advice from (a) the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, (b) the International Union for Conservation of Nature—TRAFFIC and (c) the CITES Secretariat, among others. This paper offers an expert review of listing processes, which are the subject of much debate in fishery and environment‐protection communities, looking at two specific cases: silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis, Carcharhinidae) and bigeye thresher shark (Alopias superciliosus, Alopiidae). The reviewers determine that the evidence made available to voting Parties is substantial, but suffers from non‐standard presentation across assessments. The best available data are not always presented or described transparently in relation to CITES criteria. An extension of the assessment period, as well as the opportunity to refute evidence, has been suggested as ways to support more informed and effective decision‐making by CITES Parties, whose composition of delegations varies greatly in their experience of marine species management and trade. Experts welcomed a greater coherence of advice between fishery and non‐fishery sources in the long term, and proposed a range of suggested improvements for the delivery of information and advice to CITES Parties.