What is CITES?
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. There are currently 179 states that are Parties to CITES.
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.
CITES and Seahorses
In 2002 seahorses became the first marine fishes to be included in any CITES Appendix, setting an important precedent for future listings of other marine taxa. All members of the genus Hippocampus are listed in Appendix II of CITES, meaning that any international trade involving live or dead seahorses is monitored and regulated. The listing occurred because wild seahorses populations are vulnerable to exploitation through the trade in traditional medicine and the live aquarium trade.