Notification to the Parties
No. 1998/37 Geneva, 6 August 1998
Illicit Trade in Caviar1.The Secretariat wishes to express its gratitude to those Parties that responded to its request for information concerning problems experienced in regulating the trade in caviar following the inclusion of all Acipenseriformes in Appendix II of the Convention, other than those already included in Appendix I. Attention is drawn to the following observations and Parties are encouraged, wherever possible, to communicate relevant information to their law enforcement agencies.
2. Customs officers in several countries have seized consignments of caviar being shipped since 1 April 1998 without any CITES export permits or re-export certificates. Invalid and fraudulent CITES documents have also been presented. Falsely declaring shipments as roe of fish other than sturgeon is also a means of attempting to avoid CITES, Customs and duty controls.
3. In the permit confirmation work carried out by the Secretariat the following reasons have emerged for rejection of some documents: failure to provide scientific names of species; non-range States issuing export permits; issuance of documents showing a period of validity in excess of six months; failure to include sufficient details of the origin on re-export certificates; and failure to include the date of acquisition on pre-Convention certificates.
4. As expected, intelligence indicates that unscrupulous traders are attempting to exploit the exemption for pre-Convention specimens under Article VII, paragraph 2, of the Convention by fraudulently declaring illegally obtained stocks as having been obtained prior to 1 April 1998. Parties are encouraged to employ the greatest possible care in processing applications to trade in such specimens, as this is the most effective means of combating these illicit activities.
5. Intelligence indicates that smuggling of illegally obtained caviar is prevalent. One known method of such smuggling is in private motor cars, by private persons posing as tourists travelling from countries in the general area of the Caspian Sea to western Europe.
6. The Secretariat is aware of non-party States having been approached by illicit traders who sought to exploit their lack of knowledge of the Convention to obtain documents to move illegally acquired consignments of caviar.
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