We have had an update about the latest plans from CITES on its proposal to examine the trade and conservation of marine fish. You can find the background here.

UNEP-WCMC (UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre) has been contracted as project manager for the workshop. This organisation was involved in developing the Global Marine Aquarium Database and producing a report into the marine aquarium industry, to which OATA contributed. There will be other organisations involved and WCMC’s role will to be coordinate their input. We are hopeful that IUCN and FAO will also be involved in some way. These are all respected independent institutions, so we see this as very positive and an indication that CITES has listened to our concerns about the process.

It’s good to hear that Ornamental Fish International (OFI) has been asked to sit on the group that will help to sort out the initial work programme and provide guidance to the consultants. OATA is also seeking to be involved. It is likely this group will have to provide some kind of report to the Animal Committee later in the year, which is overseeing the project. It seems the aim is to have a first suite of the draft technical documents by end of June (although we think this seems very optimistic) for presentation to a September meeting of the Animals Committee. The planned workshop would then take place although no dates have been confirmed for this because of the pandemic situation.

The workshop is due to then produce findings for presentation at the next Conference of the Parties (CoP) meeting, which is due to meet in Costa Rica. But again this seems very amibitious so it seems likely that this proposal may run a number of COP cycles which means any resolutions will take few years yet.

Dominic Whitmee commented: “Whilst the process seems somewhat unclear at the moment there are some positives because it seems the CITES Secretariat has heeded our messages about engaging Inter-Governmental Organisations to lead the process in order to avoid bias. However, we will certainly need to monitor progress going forward to ensure that remains the case.”