Recent Developments in CITES Concerning the International Trade in Queen Conch (Strombus gigas)
Despite years of regional discussions and trade regulation under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), most queen conch fisheries suffer from uncoordinated management and unsustain- able harvest. Queen conch is listed in Appendix II of the treaty and, as such, each shipment of the species must be accompanied by a permit for which the exporting country has made findings that the specimens have been legally acquired and that the trade is sustainable. The Appendix-II listing for Queen conch has proven to be a useful complement to national management pro- grams. In April 2003, the CITES Secretariat released a lengthy analysis of the Caribbean conch fisheries and associated international trade. Subsequently, the International Queen Conch Initiative (IQCI) convened its members to discuss this report and renew calls for regional cooperation on law enforce- ment, management measures, and capacity building. A list of regional commitments resulted from this meeting, and will be formally transmitted to the CITES process as the trade analysis unfolds. These commitments will be considered as CITES considers how member countries should act to reduce poaching, coordinate management, and ensure sustainable international trade in the species. This entire process, known as the CITES “review of significant trade” will require governments in the Wider Caribbean to bring about sustainable use of this resource, via binding management advice from an international technical committee. Specific CITES actions and timelines for their completion will be available by autumn 2003. This report discusses the reasons for a second CITES trade analysis, presents fundamentals of the CITES significant trade review process, highlights the outcomes of a 2003 technical committee meeting, and makes some conclusions about the future of regional conch management in the wider Caribbean.