Easier advice for making seahorse non-detriment findings (NDFs)

We created a simplified guide to help governments create non-detriment findings (NDFs) for seahorses, with the aim of regulating exports effectively and meeting obligations under CITES. The current NDF framework for seahorses has been underutilized, resulting in difficulties in making NDFs and a persistent high level of illegal trade in dried seahorses.

To streamline the process, we suggest using five questions to guide the evaluation. These questions involve identifying the distribution of seahorse species, assessing the pressures they face, evaluating existing management measures, examining their implementation, and understanding population trends. By answering these questions, governments can assess the status of wild seahorse populations within their regulatory frameworks and move towards adaptive management strategies.

Our proposed 5Q NDF evaluation offers a practical approach for governments to assess population trends and implement interim NDFs. We emphasize the importance of taking action instead of discarding a complex process, acknowledging that our approach may have imperfections. The development of this guidance involved collaboration with Asian colleagues, including representatives from CITES Management and Scientific Authorities. Valuable input and feedback were obtained during a workshop held in the Philippines, which contributed to refining the document.

In summary, our guide provides governments with a simplified framework for creating NDFs for seahorses, addressing the challenges in regulating seahorse exports and aiming to protect seahorse populations. The 5Q approach enables governments to assess the status of seahorse populations within their jurisdictions and work towards adaptive management strategies. The final version of the guidance incorporates input and feedback from workshop participants, ensuring its practicality and relevance.

Foster, S.J. & A.C.J. Vincent (2023). Easier advice for making seahorse non-detriment findings. Project Seahorse, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, The University of British Columbia. June 2023. 18 pp.