Seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) on CITES – a roadmap to success

Seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) were the first marine fishes brought onto CITES Appendix II at CoP12 (Santiago, Chile, November 2002 along with whale sharks and basking sharks. In contrast to those sharks, though, seahorses are traded in large numbers, with millions of individuals of tens of species moving in international trade each year. They were the first “fully marine” fish species (i.e., one that lives in a marine environment throughout its entire life cycle) to be taken through the Review of Significant Trade (in three rounds), the first for which Recommendations were generated, and the first for which a trade suspension was imposed (for Hippocampus kuda from Viet Nam). They are also the first for which a Non-Detriment Finding (NDF) framework was developed. Much good work has been done to implement the inclusion of seahorses in Appendix II of CITES, but the large volumes of illegal trade remain of great concern, as is a lack of monitoring of wild populations by Parties to allow robust science-based NDFs.

This document summarizes the history of the inclusion of seahorses in Appendix II of CITES, explores progress in implementation, discusses capacity building, notes the trends in trade since the inclusion of these species in CITES, and raises issues that need attention. It also proposes Decisions for CITES to address current concerns.

Foster, S.J. & A.C.J. Vincent (2018). Governments of Maldives, Monaco, Sri Lanka and the United States of America. Seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) on CITES – a roadmap to success. Agenda Document for the 17th Meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties. CoP18 Doc. 72. 10 pp. (prepared by Foster, S.J. and A.C.J. Vincent.)