The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) launched a project to examine the conservation priorities and management needs of the trade in non-CITES listed marine ornamental fishes at its Conference of the Parties (COP) held in Geneva in 2019.

In May 2024, a workshop was held in Brisbane, Australia, that brought together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss how to achieve this.

The aim of the workshop was to submit findings and make recommendations to the Animals Committee which decides on proposals for the Conference of Parties where decisions are made on species that need any kind of listings (restrictions) on their trade.

OATA and Ornamental Fish International (OFI) were there to represent the global home aquarium industry, along with a number of countries involved in the trade, and presented a proposed framework which has the support of global pet trade bodies including: Asociacion Espanola de la Industria y el Comercio del Sector del Animal de Compania (Spain), Dibevo (the Netherlands), European Pet Organization (Europe), Norges Zoohandlers Bransjeforening (Norway), Pet Advocacy Network (USA), Pets Canada (Canada), Pet Industry Association of Australia (Australia), Sustainable Users’ Network (UK), Wirtschaftskammer Österreich (Austria) and Zoobranschens Riksförbund (Sweden).

What has OATA been doing?

This project has the potential to severely restrict the range of species available to both public and home aquariums.

OATA has joined a coalition of different organisations which together has highlighted areas of concern in the work being done in the run-up to the technical workshop, in particular pointing out the need for industry representation and better data on which to make decisions. You can read our letters here and here.

The global industry has also worked to gather the most up-to-date trade data and has submitted a proposal framework that offers CITES a way to prioritise marine fish species.

See our explainer below.