Global trade associations and other organisations have written a letter of concern to CITES about its proposed approach to reviewing the trade in and conservation of marine ornamental fish, as agreed by the 18th Conference of the Parties in 2019.

Representatives from a wide range of organisations have signed the letter to Secretary General, Ivonne Higuero, and Chair of the Animals Committee, Mathias Lörtscher, expressing their concerns about the Secretariat’s proposals on how to progress the work. Read more here.

“There is a huge amount of research that needs to be carried out to produce the four proposed reports for discussion at a workshop which will make recommendations to the CITES Animals Committee. This could have a significant effect on anyone involved in marine ornamental fisheries. Slipped into the Secretariat’s recommendations of how to proceed is a suggestion that the workshop may have to be online with only ‘partial’ representation from experts. This is notacceptable, potentially excluding a number of key stakeholders from the process, reducing transparencyand risking inappropriate outcomes,” said Dominic Whitmee, OATA Chief Executive.

“The latest paper by the CITES Secretariat presented to the Animals Committee in July acknowledged the extraordinary times we find ourselves in and to continue to try to meet deadlines formulated before the Covid-19 pandemic turned everything on its head, particularly on such an extensive project as this, is simply not realistic.”

In the letter, signed by Asociación Española de la Industria y el Comercio del Sector Animal de la Compañía (AEDPAC), the Coral Reef Aquarium Fisheries Campaign, Dibevo, European Pet Organisation (EPO), Norges Zoohandleres Bransjeforening (NZB), Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA), Ornamental Fish International (OFI), Pet Industry Joint Advisory Councils (PIJAC) of the US and Canada, Syndicat professionnel des métiers et services de l’animal familier (PRODAF),Watson Fish Consulting, Zentralverband Zoologischer Fachbetriebe Deutschlands (ZZF) and Zoobranschens Riks Förbund (ZOORF), the organisations jointly call for CITES to review its work programme for this project, decided before this year’s global pandemic.

The letter states: “In light of the circumstances we face, we request the Secretariat and Parties to the Convention ensure that the opportunity for full and proper consideration is given to this issue, that sufficient time is allocated to it, that the Animals Committee is given the opportunity to consider the proposals outlined in AC31 Doc.36 at its next meeting, and that all relevant stakeholders are given the fullest possible opportunity to engage in all aspects of this work in order to ensure the best and most robust outcomes.”

You can read the letter in full here. Read our FAQs about the proposal here.