Non-Detriment Finding (NDF) toolkit

Supporting national CITES implementation

Seahorses were listed on CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Appendix II in 2002, with implementation as of May 2004. All species of seahorse (Hippocampus spp.) are listed, which means trade can continue but must be managed to ensure it is sustainable (not detrimental to wild populations), legally sourced and monitored. In the case of live animals, the shipping process must be humane.

Sustainability of the export is determined through an assessment known as a Non-Detriment Finding (NDF), while legality is decreed via a legal acquisition finding. Trade in Appendix II species without a proper NDF or legal acquisition finding violates the treaty.

We developed a toolkit to help CITES Authorities make NDFs for seahorses and overcome any challenges to ensuring that wild seahorse populations are sustainable. At their most basic, NDFs come down to answering four questions:

  1. Where are the seahorses found?
  2. What pressure do they face where they are?
  3. What management is in place to address those pressures?
  4. Is the management working?

Answering the last question requires Parties to monitor wild seahorse populations, which is most tractably achieved by by monitoring seahorse catches.

We developed a toolkit to help CITES Authorities implement the Appendix II listing of seahorses and overcome any challenges to ensuring that wild seahorse populations are sustainable.

The toolkit includes:

  • A step-by-step framework for making Non-Determinant Findings for seahorses.
  • Easy-to-use regional identification guides for seahorse species (dried or live) (in multiple languages).
  • Trade reports and information on seahorses organized by country.
  • Reference material on seahorse conservation.

Access the toolkit here: www.iucn-seahorse.org/cites-toolkit

Through a case study, we have applied our own advice on making NDFs to two species of seahorses in Thailand.