[Coral-List] RE: CITES exemption of coral cores?

Donald Potts potts at biology.ucsc.edu
Wed Dec 14 17:49:29 EST 2005

Dear Jessica,

It's good that you are asking this question. The answer may be complex,
because interpretations of CITES requirements, and procedures for
compliance vary among countries, and may involve policy considerations
that may be largely unrelated to CITES or science per se, and may be
specific to particular countries or to particular kinds of material.

All CITES transfers require documentation in advance from both the country
of origin and the receiving country (in your case, Belize and the USA).

My understanding of the general US position is that if the organism was
alive at the time of collection, then it is covered by CITES, and you need
pre-approval and documentation from both countries.

If the organism was dead, then it can be interpreted as geological
material that doesn't require CITES documentation. But in my experience,
it is not clearcut how long something must be dead before it becomes
"mineral" (one question in some countries is whether there is recoverable
DNA). You need to know in advance that officials in both countries will
treat it as geological and not biological material. Personally, if my
coral material "looks" fresh, I always treat it as CITES until told by
authorities in the US as well as country of origin that neither requires

Another complication with CITES is that import permits go to registered
institutions, not to individuals. To bring CITES material into the US, it
must be done through a CITES registered institution (I don't know if
Scripps or UCSD is approved).

Penalties for even small violations of CITES procedures can be harsh (for
both individual and institution). Hence my advice is that your advisor
should be exploring appropriate procedures with the SIO/UCSD Sponsored
Projects and especially, the Intellectual Property Rights Offices that now
exist on all University of California campuses. You want to be sure that
you are following up-to-date policies and practices for your institution,
as well as for CITES.

I also reinforce Tomas Camarena's remarks. It's more than a legal issue -
you need to be sensitive to the current thinking, attitudes, cultural
issues and policies within the host country, so that the agencies,
officials, and even local citizens feel comfortable and are supportive
of you and your work.



 Donald C. Potts

 Professor of Biology
 Director - C.DELSI
   (Center for the Dynamics and Evolution of the Land-Sea Interface)

 Chair, US National Committee for DIVERSITAS

 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
     & Institute of Marine Sciences
 A316 Earth & Marine Sciences Building          Office:(831) 459-4417
 University of California                       Lab:   (831) 459-5063
 Santa Cruz                                     Fax:   (831) 459-4882
 California  95064   U.S.A.             Email: potts at biology.ucsc.edu

> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 09:50:22 -0600
> From: "Tomas" <tcamarena at mbrs.org.bz>
> Subject: RE: [Coral-List] CITES exemption of coral cores?
> To: "'Jessica Carilli'" <jcarilli at ucsd.edu>,
> 	<coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Cc: species at btl.net
> Message-ID: <200512141550.jBEFoLXE014030 at orchid1.btl.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain;	charset="iso-8859-1"
> Jessica,
> As you should know, any removal of samples from the country of Belize is
> controlled by the Government of Belize with good reason.  If you intend to
> do research of any kind which requires the removal of samples, you must
> apply for a research permit, a petition which would be granted based on the
> merit of the Research Proposal which you submit.  I suggest you contact the
> Fisheries Department of the Government of Belize (species at btl.net).
> Your concern here should not just be CITES restrictions but the sovereignty
> of the resources of the country from which you intend to remove samples.
> Any attempt to bypass the authorities on this is not looked upon favourably
> and could greatly complicate your work in the country.  Also, the researcher
> applying for the permit is required to repatriate scientific reports,
> analyses, etc. which are produced based on work in the country.
> Sincerely,
> Dr. Tomás Camarena
> -----Original Message-----
> From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Jessica Carilli
> Sent: Martes, 13 de Diciembre de 2005 06:49 p.m.
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: [Coral-List] CITES exemption of coral cores?
> Dear Coral-listers,
> We intend to collect coral cores in Belize and transport them back to the US
> for analysis. We won't be transporting live tissue, so I was under the
> impression that this skeletal matter is exempt from CITES.  However, trying
> to find documentation supporting this is proving to be difficult and I'm
> wondering if skeletal samples from live corals are indeed covered by CITES?
> If they are exempt, does anyone have suggestions as to specific documents I
> can have on hand to show the customs officials?
> Thanks very much,
> Jessica Carilli
> -------------------------------------
> Graduate Student
> Scripps Institution of Oceanography
> 9500 Gilman Dr. 0208
> La Jolla, CA 92093-0208
> office: 858-822-2355
> Vaughan Hall 209
> mobile: 760-815-2629

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