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CITES working for sustainable fisheries delivering on needs-driven capacity building
by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (United Nations entity)
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is a legally binding international agreement that aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. There are currently 183 Parties to the Convention (182 States and the European Union) and over 36,000 species listed in three Appendices.

CITES has a long history of regulating and monitoring international trade in marine species that are listed on its Appendices, e.g. precious corals (since its entry into force in 1975), queen conch and marine turtles. This role has significantly expanded over recent years, with an increasing number of commercially exploited marine species being listed. Particularly notable is the recent addition of a number of species of commercially exploited sharks and rays, which were listed on Appendix II in 2013 (CoP16, Bangkok) and 2016 (CoP17, Johannesburg). Appendix II allows for strictly regulated international trade through the issuance of permits to ensure that any such trade is legal, sustainable and reported.

This places CITES at the interface between sustainable use and international trade for fisheries, with CITES focusing on species that have declined to a level that requires strong trade and management measures to maintain or rebuilt stocks. CITES plays a well-targeted role in advancing implementation of SDG 14 as a trade-related measure with effective compliance procedures. CITES complements the work of other organizations to improve fisheries management, such as that of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations and Bodies (RFMO/RFBs).

From 2013-2016, the CITES Secretariat, with the generous financial support of the European Union, and in partnership with FAO, RFMOs/RBOs, Parties, and other stakeholders from the fisheries sector, as well as with academia and NGOs, implemented a project to assist CITES Parties in successfully implementing the provisions of the Convention for commercially exploited marine species. The project gave Parties the opportunity to identify their capacity needs during regional consultative workshops. Based on the outcomes of these workshops CITES and its partners then delivered a variety of well-targeted capacity building activities.

The current second phase of the project (2017-2020) builds on these experiences and the feedback received from the previous years. It will further scale up targeted activities to assist with the implementation of CITES provisions for commercially-exploited marine species. The activities will take advantage of strong existing partnerships, and establish new ones, with a view to maximizing synergies, avoiding duplication of work and delivering outcomes in a coordinated and effective manner.

By responding to the capacity building needs identified by the CITES Parties (SDG 14.A), including for the making of scientific assessments (non-detriment-findings), ensuring legal harvesting (legal acquisition finding), reporting and trade monitoring, the outcomes of this project will directly contribute to the recovery of the stocks of CITES listed species to sustainable levels (SDG 14.4).
Progress reports
By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
Type of commitment
  • Compliance, monitoring and enforcement
  • Science-based fisheries management plans
  • Reduction of fisheries by-catch and product waste/losses
  • Eco-labelling, traceability, certification programmes
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Research capacity development
  • Training and professional development
  • Actions that support SIDS and LDCs
Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets
Type of commitment
  • Access and capacity building for eco-labelling and traceability systems
Report on implementation of activities to the 18th Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP18, Colombo, 2019)
April 2018
Implementation of activities underway
December 2017
80% of agreements with implementing partners signed and interim report to 69th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee (SC69, Geneva, 2017)
June 2017
Project launch
Financing (in USD)
900,000 USD
Staff / Technical expertise
Coordination, Project Implementation, Scientific & Legal Advice, Capacity building
Staff / Technical expertise
Fisheries Support Officer seconded by Turkey (2017)
Staff / Technical expertise
Marine Species Officer (JPO) co-funded by Germany (2015-2018)
Basic information
Time-frame: 06/2017 - 2020
European Union (governments), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO, UN entity), Regional Fisheries Management Organizations & Bodies (RFMOs/RFBs), Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
Ocean Basins
  • Global
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
CITES Parties (183 as of May 2017. 182 States and the European Union)
Contact information
Daniel Kachelriess, Marine Species Officer, daniel.kachelriess@cites.org,
CITES Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland
Other SDGs
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