[Coral-List] Global Protections for Seahorses to Take Effect This Month; New Permit Requirements Introduced for International Trade

Susan_White at FWS.GOV Susan_White at FWS.GOV
Tue May 18 13:39:18 EDT 2004

  Contact: Patricia Fisher
                                                               202 208 

        Global Protections for Seahorses to Take Effect This Month;
        New Permit Requirements Introduced for International Trade

The United States will join more than 160 nations this month in
implementing new permit requirements for global trade in seahorses.
Designed to promote international seahorse conservation efforts, the
regulations take effect on May 15, 2004.

Issued under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species 
Fauna and Flora (CITES), an agreement that regulates and monitors trade in
animals and plants through a system of permits, the implementation of new
measures was delayed for 18 months. This delay was to allow countries that
harvest seahorses adequate time to assess seahorse population levels,
establish management plans, and determine appropriate levels of trade.

"The protection of seahorses and other marine species is a growing
concern," said Service Director Steve Williams.  "The United States and 
CITES partners are working together to ensure that trade in these unique
fish can continue without threatening their long-term survival."

Global seahorse trade involves the harvest of millions of fish each year.
Most are dried and used whole or in compounds as traditional medicine to
treat a variety of disorders.  Hundreds of thousands of seahorses are also
collected live for sale in the aquarium trade.

CITES member nations agreed to place all seahorse species on the treaty's
Appendix II at their last meeting in November 2002.  Although animals and
plants listed on this appendix are not currently threatened with
extinction, they may become imperiled without appropriate measures to
ensure that trade is sustainable.

Under the new rules, shipments of seahorses that are traded live for home
aquarium display and dead as curios and traditional medicine must be
accompanied by a permit from the country of origin or re-export.  Such
permits confirm that the seahorses were legally acquired and that the 
being authorized does not represent a threat to the species' survival in
the wild.

Americans visiting other countries who buy seahorse curios or dried
seahorses for medicinal use may still be able to bring limited quantities
(generally, no more than eight items) home with them for personal use.
Travelers, however, should first check with CITES authorities in the
country they are visiting since some nations require that permits be
obtained for all exports of CITES-listed species, including individually
purchased tourist souvenirs made from Appendix II wildlife.

Sea horses can be found in shallow coastal tropical and temperate waters
worldwide.  With more than 30 different known species, seahorses range in
size from 3/4 to 12 inches.  The proximity of their habitat to land makes
them vulnerable to such threats as pollution, dredging, and trawling.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of 
wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national
fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 ecological
services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws,
administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird 
restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife
habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their
conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program,
which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on
fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

      For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
                 visit our homepage at http://www.fws.gov

><>  ><>  ><>  ><>  ><>  ><>  ><>  ><>  ><>  ><>
Susan White,  Deputy Refuge Manager
J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
1 Wildlife Dr.
Sanibel,  FL  33957
ph:  239-472-1100 x 225
fx:   239-472-4061
susan_white at fws.gov
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