CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments and one of the largest and oldest conservation and sustainable use agreements in existence. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Gaharu and CITES
CITES has listed agarwood species of Aquilaria malaccencis in Appendix II in 1995. At that point the other Aquilaria species are not listed probably because still considered SAFE. However, beginning in 2004 all the species under the genus Aquilaria and Gyrinops also listed under Appendix II of CITES.
Appendix II, are species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in order to avoid utilization incompatible with the survival of the species in the wild. In practice, many hundreds of thousands of Appendix II animals are traded annually. No import permit is necessary for these species under CITES, although some Parties do require import permits as part of their stricter domestic measures. Examples of species listed on Appendix II are the Great White Shark, the American black bear, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, African grey parrot, green iguana, queen conch, Mertens’ Water Monitor, bigleaf mahogany and Lignum Vitae “ironwood”.
To get a CITES permit, the application should be forwarded to the local authorities before agarwood trade to foreign countries can continue. Problems may arise if you do not have a CITES permit when arriving in the country that will receive your products later.
How CITES Works
CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. All import, export, re-export and introduction from the sea of species covered by the Convention has to be authorized through a licensing system. Each Party to the Convention must designate one or more Management Authorities in charge of administering that licensing system and one or more Scientific Authorities to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species.
The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need. (For additional information on the number and type of species covered by the Convention click here.)
Appendices I and II
Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
The Conference of the Parties (CoP), which is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention and comprises all its member States, has agreed in Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP16) on a set of biological and trade criteria to help determine whether a species should be included in Appendices I or II. At each regular meeting of the CoP, Parties submit proposals based on those criteria to amend these two Appendices. Those amendment proposals are discussed and then submitted to a vote. The Convention also allows for amendments by a postal procedure between meetings of the CoP (see Article XV, paragraph 2, of the Convention), but this procedure is rarely used.
This Appendix contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade. Changes to Appendix III follow a distinct procedure from changes to Appendices I and II, as each Party’s is entitled to make unilateral amendments to it.
A specimen of a CITES-listed species may be imported into or exported (or re-exported) from a State party to the Convention only if the appropriate document has been obtained and presented for clearance at the port of entry or exit. There is some variation of the requirements from one country to another and it is always necessary to check on the national laws that may be stricter, but the basic conditions that apply for Appendices I and II are described below.
- An import permit issued by the Management Authority of the State of import is required. This may be issued only if the specimen is not to be used for primarily commercial purposes and if the import will be for purposes that are not detrimental to the survival of the species. In the case of a live animal or plant, the Scientific Authority must be satisfied that the proposed recipient is suitably equipped to house and care for it.
- An export permit or re-export certificate issued by the Management Authority of the State of export or re-export is also required.An export permit may be issued only if the specimen was legally obtained; the trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species; and an import permit has already been issued.A re-export certificate may be issued only if the specimen was imported in accordance with the provisions of the Convention and, in the case of a live animal or plant, if an import permit has been issued.In the case of a live animal or plant, it must be prepared and shipped to minimize any risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment.
- An export permit or re-export certificate issued by the Management Authority of the State of export or re-export is required.An export permit may be issued only if the specimen was legally obtained and if the export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species.A re-export certificate may be issued only if the specimen was imported in accordance with the Convention.
- In the case of a live animal or plant, it must be prepared and shipped to minimize any risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment.
- No import permit is needed unless required by national law.
In the case of specimens introduced from the sea, a certificate has to be issued by the Management Authority of the State into which the specimens are being brought, for species listed in Appendix I or II. For further information, see the text of the Convention, Article III, paragraph 5 and Article IV, paragraph 6.
- In the case of trade from a State that included the species in Appendix III, an export permit issued by the Management Authority of that State is required. This may be issued only if the specimen was legally obtained and, in the case of a live animal or plant, if it will be prepared and shipped to minimize any risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment.
- In the case of export from any other State, a certificate of origin issued by its Management Authority is required.
- In the case of re-export, a re-export certificate issued by the State of re-export is required
In its Article VII, the Convention allows or requires Parties to make certain exceptions to the general principles described above, notably in the following cases:
- for specimens in transit or being transhipped [see Resolution Conf. 9.7 (Rev. CoP15)];
- for specimens that were acquired before CITES provisions applied to them (known as pre-Convention specimens, see ResolutionConf. 13.6 (Rev. CoP16);
- for specimens that are personal or household effects [see Resolution Conf. 13.7 (Rev. CoP16)];
- for animals that were ‘bred in captivity’ [see also Resolution Conf. 10.16 (Rev.)];
- for plants that were ‘artificially propagated’ [see also Resolution Conf. 11.11 (Rev. CoP15)];
- for specimens that are destined for scientific research;
- for animals or plants forming part of a travelling collection or exhibition, such as a circus [see also Resolution Conf. 12.3 (Rev. CoP16)].
There are special rules in these cases and a permit or certificate will generally still be required. Anyone planning to import or export/re-export specimens of a CITES species should contact the national CITES Management Authorities of the countries of import and export/re-export for information on the rules that apply.
When a specimen of a CITES-listed species is transferred between a country that is a Party to CITES and a country that is not, the country that is a Party may accept documentation equivalent to the permits and certificates described above.
There is no specific requirement in the text of the Convention to establish quotas to limit the trade in CITES-listed species. Nevertheless, the use of export quotas has become such an effective tool for the regulation of international trade in wild fauna and flora that, at its 14th meeting (The Hague, 2007), of the Conference of the Parties to CITES adopted Resolution Conf. 14.7 (Rev. CoP15) on Management of nationally established export quotas.
Export quotas are usually established by each Party (member State) unilaterally, but they can also be set by the Conference of the Parties, and they generally relate to a calendar year (1 January to 31 December).
Before any Party may issue a permit to allow export of specimens of species in Appendix I or II, its Scientific Authority must be satisfied and advise that the proposed export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species (the so-called ‘non-detriment finding’ in Article III, paragraph 2 (a), and Article IV, paragraph 2 (a), of the Convention). The setting of an export quota by a Party may meet this requirement by establishing the maximum number of specimens of a species that may be exported over the course of a year without having a detrimental effect on its survival. The responsibility for establishing quotas thus lies with each individual Party (unless they have been set by the Conference of the Parties).
When a country sets its own national export quotas for CITES species, it should inform the Secretariat [see Resolution Conf. 12.3 (Rev. CoP16)], which in turn informs the Parties. Early each year, the Secretariat publishes a Notification to the Parties containing the explanatory notes on the export quotas of which it has been informed.
The Conference of the Parties establishes export quotas in a variety of circumstances. These quotas are either specified in the CITES Appendices [e.g. for the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and for the African spurred tortoise (Geochelone sulcata)] or in a Resolution of the Conference of the Parties [e.g. Resolution Conf. 10.14 (Rev. CoP16) for the leopard (Panthera pardus), Resolution Conf. 10.15 (Rev. CoP14) for the markhor (Capra falconeri) and Resolution Conf. 13.5 (Rev. CoP14) for black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) hunting trophies].
The quotas specified in the Appendices are usually established only when there are concerns about a species transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II. In this case, the quotas are specified in annotations to Appendices I and II. The Conference of the Parties has provided relevant guidance in Annex 4 to Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP16) (Criteria for amendment of Appendices I and II) and in ResolutionConf. 11.21 (Rev. CoP16) (Use of annotations in Appendices I and II).