2016 CITES Results for Aquarium Fish and Inverts

October 20, 2016 in General Banggai Info, Slideshow

As originally published at Reef2Rainforest.com

Clarion Angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensis, is a somewhat rare species in the aquarium trade, and is now afforded CITES Appendix II trade regulations. Image by Elias Levy, cropped and rotated, CC-BY-2.0

Clarion Angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensis, is a somewhat rare species in the aquarium trade, and is now afforded CITES Appendix II trade regulations. Image by Elias Levy/CC-BY-2.0

October 13, 2016
UPDATE: New aquatic species of interest to the aquarium trade that have just been proposed for CITES Listings include:

• Clarion Angelfish (Holacanthus clarionensis)
• All members of the Family Nautilidae (nautiluses, six species)
• Potamotrygon spp. (freshwater stingrays, including Potamotrygon motoro)


In late September, just days before CITES CoP17 (Conference of Parties Meeting 17) got underway, we shared the proposals to list 4 aquarium-related species under the convention. Listings, and the appendix a species is listed within, can have wide-ranging trade implications, from simply applying trade reporting requirements to outright bans on trade. The CoP17 decisions are in, and will affect every aquarium-related group or species that had been up for discussion.

CITES CoP17 Aquarium Species Recap

Proposed: Include the Ocellate River Stingray, Potamotrygon motoro, in Appendix II, proposed by Bolivia

Decided: The proposal was withdrawn by Bolivia. Instead, as reported by Svein A. Fosså, “Bolivia will instead list the species in [Appendix III] as soon as possible. Colombia has earlier at this CoP announced that they will list several stingrays in [Appendix III]; and Brazil all Potamotrygon spp. in [Appendix III]. This is in accordance with several previous recommendations from various CITES bodies.”

Proposed: Include the Clarion Angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensis, in Appendix II, proposed by Mexico

Decided: Despite the CITES Secretariat recommending against this listing, it was “Accepted [with 69 Parties voting in favour, 21 against and 15 abstaining]. ”

Proposed: Include the Banggai Cardinalfish, Pterapogon kauderni, in Appendix II, proposed by the European Union

Decided: The proposal was “Withdrawn. Instead five draft decisions, contained in CoP17 Com. I. 32 were agreed by consensus. [Rec.14].” We’ll share more on this story in a follow-up from Ret Talbot.

Proposed: Include the Family Nautilidae in Appendix II, proposed by Fiji, India, Palau, and the United States of America

Decided: The proposal to list all Nautilidae under Appendix II was “Accepted [with 84 Parties voting in favour, 9 against and 10 abstaining]. [Rec.14].”

As noted in the official recap press release of CoP17, “Changes to the CITES Appendices, Resolutions and Decisions enter into force 90 days after the CoP.”

This means that starting Monday, January 2, 2017, international trade in Potamotrygon spp. will require either an export permit or certificate of origin when being imported. Meanwhile, trade in the Clarion Angelfish, whether captive-bred in Indonesia or wild-caught in Mexico, will require CITES permits akin to those currently required to trade in all stony corals and wild seahorses; the same will become true for Nautilids.

CITES Appendix III listings for Potamotrygon spp. by multiple countries will add a new layer of complexity to the trade in freshwater stingrays. Potamotrygon motoro shown here. Image by Jim Capaldi, retouched, CC BY 2.0

CITES Appendix III listings for Potamotrygon spp. by multiple countries will add a new layer of complexity to the trade in freshwater stingrays. Potamotrygon motoro shown here. Image by Jim Capaldi, retouched, CC BY 2.0

CITES Setting Aside Science, Preferring Sentiment?

Svein A. Fosså attended CoP17 as as an observer for Ornamental Fish International (OFI), and has attended all CoPs and most Animals Committee meetings since CoP11 in 2000. Reporting as-it-happened to friends and associates via social media, Fosså shared concerns about the process of listings and the way CITES decisions were made this year.

“Yesterday’s long working day ended in a hectic night session where several listing proposals were pushed through in very little time, with next to no debate and zero possibility for NGOs to [comment] on most issues.

“Reptile keepers and traders have had a very bad CoP with lots of listings that hardly meet any scientific listing criteria, and where CITES is unlikely to give any conservation benefits whatsoever. The plentiful animal rights lobbyists had the more reason to rejoice, with their [loud] cheers resounding in the hall every time a new species was banned from trade,” lamented Fosså.

We relay his concerns regarding the reptile listings, as Fosså feels that the listing of the Clarion Angelfish under Appendix II may be another example of a comparable failure at CoP17. “The Mexican endemic species Holacanthus clarionensis suffered a fate similar to the reptiles. [Everyone] who cares about science as a foundation for CITES, there under the CITES Secretariat, IUCN/TRAFFIC and FAO had recommended against this listing. In the hectic late night session it was, however, voted in and agreed with more than 2/3 majority, without any debate.”

In discussing these observations recently, Fosså believes that “Most of your readers will not understand to what grave extent it now is being used to ban trade on animal rights grounds and emotions. It is perverse when the cheers are [loud] every time a species is up-listed (because CITES measures have failed), but success stories where CITES have worked (like the Peregrine Falcon this year) are prevented from being down-listed to [Appendix II], where it now truly belongs.”

Captive-bred Clarion Angelfish from Bali Aquarich, like this specimen imported by Carolina Aquatics, will now be subjected to CITES permit requirements in order to legally entry the country. Image courtesy Carolina Aquatics

Captive-bred Clarion Angelfish from Bali Aquarich, like this specimen imported by Carolina Aquatics, will now be subjected to CITES permit requirements in order to legally enter the country. Image courtesy Carolina Aquatics

 

Large scale cultivation of the Clarion Angelfish by Bali Aquarich could prove an interesting wrinkle for trade regulation, considering that Mexico (who proposed the Appendix II listing) is the source country for wild Clarion Angelfishes. Image courtesy Bali Aquarich.

Large-scale cultivation of the Clarion Angelfish by Bali Aquarich could prove an interesting wrinkle for trade regulation, considering that Mexico (which proposed the Appendix II listing) is the source country for wild Clarion Angelfishes. Image courtesy Bali Aquarich.

 

Nautilids and Banggais – CITES Got It Right?

The decision to list Nautilids under Appendix II seems to have wide-ranging support. The Center for Biological Diversity issued a press release supporting the decision, and Fosså noted that OFI was ready to “actively support the proposal to list the Nautilidae in [Appendix II],” but again there was no opportunity to officially comment.

Trade in Nautilus spp., such as this N. belauensis from Palau, will now be regulated under CITES Appendix II. The curio/shell trade is mainly cited as the cause for population declines of Nautilids. Image by Manuae - CC BY-SA 3.0

Trade in Nautilus spp., such as this N. belauensis from Palau, will now be regulated under CITES Appendix II. The curio/shell trade is mainly cited as the cause for population declines of Nautilids. Image by ManuaeCC BY-SA 3.0

OFI also released an official statement in support of the ultimate Banggai Cardinalfish compromise, which the UK’s Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA) quickly endorsed.

“The situation for the Banggai Cardinal Fish has been of major concern to OFI for many years, although not necessarily for the same reasons as suggested by CITES CoP17 prop. 46.
We are dealing with a species with a very restricted distribution, exposed to a multitude of threats. In addition to the collection for the ornamental fish trade, which has shown a decreasing trend in later years, these threats include destruction of the macro and micro habitats, due to destructive fishing methods for food fish and selective targeting of the host sea anemones and sea urchins. Use as feeder fish in mariculture of food fish has been reported to be an added threat.

“Because of the complexity of the threat factors for the species, we could not agree to CITES Appendix II listing being an effective tool for protecting the species.
Through the unfortunate experience with the listing of the seahorses 14 years ago, we are in no doubt that Indonesia with a listing of the Banggai Cardinal Fish most likely would loose much or possibly even all of their trade to breeding operations in non-range countries; and that most likely with very little or no benefit whatsoever to the wild populations in the Banggai Archipelago. It could also not be ruled out that a listing would have an overall negative effect on the conservation of the species.

“OFI therefore wholeheartedly supports the agreement that was adopted yesterday; to give Indonesia the possibility to implement conservation and management measures, with the support of the CITES Secretariat, Parties and organisations, including the FAO, in the time leading up to the 30th meeting of the CITES Animals Committee.”

We encourage you to read Ret Talbot’s more detailed examination of the Banggai Plan enacted at CoP17, and three years from now, we hope to report back on the results of this plan as required to occur at CITES CoP18.

Banggais & Other Species Targeted for CITES Listings

September 23, 2016 in General Banggai Info, Slideshow

The Ocellate River Stingray or Motoro Stingray, Potamotrygon motoro, is the only freshwater aquarium fish whose aquarium-trade future is being discussed at the upcoming CITES CoP17 meeting. Image by Raimond Spekking, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Ocellate River Stingray or Motoro Stingray, Potamotrygon motoro, is the only freshwater aquarium fish whose aquarium-trade future is being discussed at the upcoming CITES CoP17 meeting. Image by Raimond Spekking, CC BY-SA 4.0

CITES CoP17, Johannesburg, South Africa, starts tomorrow. This is the 17th Conference of Parties meeting to be held, a meeting which has been held roughly every 2-3 years since the first CoP in 1976. CoP meetings are the time when changes to CITES listings for species are discussed and debated, culminating in the adoption of additions and revisions to the CITES appendices.

Among the many species up for discussion, three fish species noteworthy in the aquarium trade will be debated. The proposals include:

  • Include the Ocellate River Stingray Potamotrygon motoro. in Appendix II, proposed by Bolivia
  • Include the Clarion Angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensis, in Appendix II, proposed by Mexico
  • Include the Banggai Cardinalfish, Pterapogon kauderni. in Appendix II, proposed by the European Union

An additional proposal may be of interest to some aquarists:

  • Include the Family Nautilidae in Appendix II, proposed by Fiji, India, Palau and the United States of America

If listed, a species becomes difficult to trade without special permissions and paperwork and may be banned completely from sale into the European Union (EU).

Based on the released documentation, the CITES Secretariat has recommended to reject the listings for the Motoro Stingray (a freshwater species from South America) as well as recommending a similar rejection for the Clarion Angelfish. In the latter case, the Secretariat notes that, “Mexico may wish to consider including Holacanthus clarionensis in CITES Appendix III.”

The Clarion Angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensis, is a somewhat rare species in the aquarium trade, typically selling for $2500 to $4000 per fish, and these days more commonly seen as a captive-bred offering out of Bali Aquarich. Image by Elias Levy, CC-BY-2.0

The Clarion Angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensis, is a somewhat rare species in the aquarium trade, typically selling for $2500 to $4000 per fish, and these days more commonly seen as a captive-bred offering out of Bali Aquarich. Image by Elias Levy, CC-BY-2.0

The CITES Secretariat’s recommendations include support for the listing of all nautiloids in Appendix II. This will likely have little impact on the aquarium trade in the species, which appears to be extremely limited.

A Chambered Nautilus, on display at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Image by Eric Kilby, CC-BY-SA-2.0

bn A Chambered Nautilus, on display at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Image by Eric Kilby, CC-BY-SA-2.0

A listing of nautiloids will likely have little impact on the aquarium trade in the various species, which appears to be extremely limited based on information from AquariumTradeData.org, with never more than 200 Nautilus spp. being imported to the US in a given year, and usually significantly less.

US import data on all nautiloid species from AquariumTradeData.org. Key: Gray = 2000, Green = 2008, Blue = 2009, Red = 2011.

US import data on all nautiloid species from AquariumTradeData.org. Key: Gray = 2000, Green = 2008, Blue = 2009, Red = 2011.

It is the consideration of the the Banggai Cardinalfish for Appendix II listing that perhaps will garner the most attention from the aquarists, and this proposal currently has a recommendation to approve coming from the CITES Secretariat (it should be noted that the Secretariat’s recommendations are just that; they are not binding decisions already set).

What is CITES?

For any reader unfamiliar with CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES.org includes a detailed introduction for review. This international agreement is currently voluntarily adhered to by 183 countries. CITES listings already play a role in the international trade of several groups of species traded for aquarium purposes, perhaps most notably including many corals and all seahorses.

Listings of a species, genus or family under CITES Appendices I, II or III, has various trade ramifications. Appendix I species essentially being off limits, Appendix II species having their trade controlled, and Appendix III with more minimal trade documentation requirements than Appendix II (view detailed explanations of Appendices on the CITES website).

John Kamp at World of Fish in Duluth, MN, inspecting recently arrived Banggai Cardinalfish. The species remains a perennial favorite, generally in the top-10 species imported into the US.

John Kamp at World of Fish in Duluth, MN, inspecting recently arrived Banggai Cardinalfish. The species remains a perennial favorite, generally in the top-10 species imported into the US.

IUCN, CITES, the ESA, and the Banggai Cardinalfish

The Banggai Cardinalfish was first proposed for CITES listing in Appendix II by the United States during CoP14, at the Hauge, Netherlands, in 2007. Just a few months prior, the Banggai Cardinalfish had been listed on the IUCN Red List as an Endangered Species, where it remains at this time (it’s noteworthy that the Red List does not have any effect on trade in a species). The proposal to list the Banggai under CITES in 2007 ultimately failed.

Since that time, the trade in wild Banggai Cardinalfish has continued, although since roughly 2013, it appears that in some markets, captive-bred Banggai Cardinalfish produce by large scale operations in Asia have potentially overtaken the bulk of the trade volume in the species. After review in 2015, at the start of 2016, the Banggai Cardinalfish was listed within the US under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as Threatened, with the Final Rule becoming effective February 19th, 2016.

A male Pterapogon kauderni holding a clutch of freshly spawned eggs in his mouth; this popular species is known for their paternal mouthbrooding behavior.

A male Pterapogon kauderni holding a clutch of freshly spawned eggs in his mouth; this popular species is known for their paternal mouthbrooding behavior.

The Reattempt to List the Banggai under CITES

With this latest proposal to list the Banggai under CITES, once again the debate over aquarium fisheries and the aquarium trade comes to the forefront, and not everyone is in agreement.

OATA, the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association, is the organization representing the aquarium trade in the UK. OATA issued a position statement in opposition to the EU’s proposal to list the Banggai under Appendix II.

OATA beings by citing Indonesia’s ongoing opposition to the listing, something which was generally cited as part of the reason the 2007 proposal failed. “The proposal to list Banggai Cardinal fish on Appendix II is not supported by Indonesia, the only range country for the species. Indonesia considers that such a listing will do nothing to support their national management of the species.”

Furthermore, OATA notes that, “The proposal to put Banggai Cardinal fish on Appendix II is a repetition of an earlier failed listing attempt from 2007. However OATA believes that, although updated, the current proposal does not show any likely benefits of a listing. While the proposal indicates that there has been a continuing decline in Banggai Cardinal fish populations within its original distribution area in the Banggai Archipelago, it is unclear what the main factors for the decline are. There are other threats to the species such as habitat destruction which most likely are more significant than the trade, and that can be expected to increase if the trade incentive for protecting the species is lost.” [read the full position statement here]

Dr. Andrew Rhyne, a leading aquarium trade and aquaculture researcher and author of the paper Is sustainable exploitation of coral reefs possible? A view from the standpoint of the marine aquarium trade, differs in his opinion.

On the eve of CoP17, Rhyne wrote, “The only way forward for the trade in wild BCF [Banggai Cardinalfish] is for it to have a regulated trade. CITES does not prohibit trade, it does increase the burden for trade and for this species that burden is something that likely needs to be in place. Having a higher cost fish or entire shipment is the price that has to be paid for ensuring the unregulated trade in BCF is curtailed. The natural populations of this species have been greatly impacted by trade. There is no one that can suggest it hasn’t. There is overwhelming evidence that it’s natural range has been greatly impacted by trade. That is precisely the purpose of CITES. To allow trade but regulated trade. CITES has worked very well for seahorses and the aquarium trade. Hasn’t worked well for the CTM in seahorses.”

CoP17 runs through October 5th, so within the next two weeks, we’ll know which species and groups, if any, obtain new protections under CITES.

References:

CoP17 Species Proposals – https://cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/cop/17/WorkingDocs/E-CoP17-88-01-A1.pdf

CoP17 Banggai Cardinalfish Listing Proposal – http://ec.europa.eu/environment/cites/pdf/cop17/Pterapogon%20kauderni.pdf

CoP14 Banggai Cardinalfish Listing Proposal – https://www.cites.org/eng/cop/14/prop/E14-P19.pdf

OATA Position Statement – http://www.ornamentalfish.org/uncatogorized/oata-position-on-forthcoming-cites-meeting


Additional Reading:

Banggai Rescue Project:  http://www.reef2rainforest.com/banggai-rescue-project/

For an in-depth look at the plight of the Banggai Cardinalfish, a limited number of copies of the highly praised book, Banggai Cardinalfish, the publication of the Banggai Rescue Project, are still available.

Talbot, Ret. Pedersen, M. and Wittenrich, M. (2013). Banggai Cardinalfish: A Guide to Captive Care, Breeding & Natural History hardcover ed.  Available from Amazon and aquarium booksellers.

Banggai Cardinalfish, the book from Ret Talbot, Matt Pedersen and Dr. Matthew L. Wittenrich, investigating the past, present and future of this iconic and troubled aquarium fish.

Banggai Cardinalfish, the book from Ret Talbot, Matt Pedersen and Dr. Matthew L. Wittenrich, investigating the past, present and future of this iconic and troubled aquarium fish.

IN STOCK!

Dealers: Contact Julian Sprung at Two Little Fishies for wholesale quantities.

Vagelli, A. 2001. The Banggai Cardinalfish: Natural History, Conservation, and Culture of Pterapogon kauderni. Wiley-Blackwell. Available from Amazon.