(Letter from Canada)
January 25, 2001
Mr Willem Wijnstekers
15, chemin des Anémones
Case postale 456
Dear Mr Wijnstekers:
Sturgeon Export Quotas for Canada, re Decision 11.58, regarding trade in sturgeons and paddlefish
Although Canada expressed concerns about the wording of this decision, and its application to Canadian sturgeon exports at the recent Conference of Parties, we feel obliged to comply with the spirit of the decision, in support of conservation efforts for sturgeon species (Acipenseriformes) worldwide. We have consulted with the Scientific Authority of the United States of America, a country with which we share certain sturgeon species, and the following reflects these consultations.
To clarify and follow up on our recent exchanges on this matter, I wish to confirm that Canada does not normally use export quotas for sturgeon products. Sturgeon products exported come either from managed fisheries or from aquaculture or experimental facilities, and trade in sturgeon products is not a factor threatening sturgeon stocks in this country.
Canada does have catch quotas and other conservation regulations for the sturgeons which are exported from this country. The following could be used by CITES as export quotas for the year 2001:
Acipenser fulvescens (Great Lakes/St. Lawrence drainage) 170,000 kg of meat
Acipenser fulvescens (Great Lakes/St. Lawrence drainage) 500 kg of caviar
Acipenser oxyrhynchus (Atlantic coast of Canada) 58,000 kg of meat
Acipenser oxyrhynchus (Atlantic coast of Canada) 500 kg of caviar
Exports of live animals originate from aquaculture facilities, and as such we consider that they are exempt from declarations under this decision. However, to support CITES’s efforts in this area, we would like to indicate the following possible levels of export of live animals. It is our understanding that declared levels of sturgeon exports from live propagation facilities may be changed during the current calendar year, with notice to the Secretariat.
Acipenser fulvescens 1,000 kg
Acipenser oxyrhynchus 1,000 kg
It is our understanding that export quotas apply only to products and specimens exported for commercial purposes, and not to specimens exported for research purposes.
Canada has supported CITES’s activities related to sturgeon conservation, but we have had significant concerns about the impact of these measures on sustainable sturgeon production and exports in this country. Canada supported the Resolution from COP 10 calling for sturgeons to be placed on Appendix II, despite the new requirements this placed on our exporters and regulatory systems. The wording of Decision 11.58 was debated toward the end of COP 11 in a hurried atmosphere, and the Canadian delegation left the meeting without knowing the exact wording of the Decision. In the end this was extremely directive and left little flexibility for countries such as Canada which manage sturgeons sustainably. More recently (December 2000), the Animals Committee in a discussion of species in significant trade placed sturgeons originating in North America in "category 2", which is not an accurate categorization of sturgeon from Canada. We finally agreed with this in the spirit of supporting consensus on the important issue of achieving conservation of these species.
We look forward to working further with the CITES Secretariat on these matters.
Species at Risk Branch
Canadian Wildlife Service
c.c. Mr Howard Powles, Director, Fisheries Research Branch
(Letter from the United States of America)
In Reply Refer To: FWS/AIA/DSA/DMA
Willem Wijnstekers, Secretary General
15, chemin des Anémones
Case postale 456
Dear Mr Wijnstekers:
This letter is in response to your telefax transmission to us of November 10, 2000, requesting the U.S. response to Decision 11.58, Regarding trade in sturgeons and paddlefish. That decision requested that all range States should declare coordinated intergovernmental level annual export and catch quotas per basin, or biogeographical region where appropriate, for all commercial trade in specimens of Acipenseriformes. Since the United States is a range State for nine (9) species of Acipenseriform fishes, we were compelled to examine and comply with this Decision, to the extent practicable.
Currently, the United States conducts commercial international trade in only three native species of Acipenseriformes: American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula), white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus), and shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus). In lieu of setting national catch and export quotas, the United States evaluates exports for these species on a case-by-case basis. This allows us to scrutinize the details of each transaction involved in a proposed export of Acipenseriformes, rather than simply comparing the applicant’s harvest to achievement of a particular quota or catch ceiling. We therefore make a separate non-detriment and legal acquisition finding for each requested export.
Although we share jurisdiction for two species that are commercially exploited in Canada (Acipenser oxyrhynchus, Acipenser fulvescens), commercial trade in wild specimens of these fishes is prohibited in the United States. Therefore, intergovernmental quotas cannot be developed for these species for their harvest or export. Nonetheless, the United States and Canada communicate regularly about sustainable harvest levels and cooperative research programs for these species in various bilateral fora (e.g. Great Lakes Fishery Commission: http://www.glfc.org). Polyodon spathula and Scaphirhynchus platorynchus are endemic to our country, and intergovernmental quotas cannot be set for endemic species as per the language of Decision 11.58. As such, we will not be submitting any catch quotas for these species. We also believe that we are not required by Decision 11.58 to submit export quotas for these two endemic species. However, on a voluntary basis, and as a courtesy, we are providing you with information on our anticipated exports in the calendar year 2001 for these two species.
Furthermore, as per our recent telephone conversation on January 5, 2001, many products of Polyodon spathula and Acipenser transmontanus can originate from captive propagation (e.g. live eggs, caviar, and meat) and are therefore exempt from declarations under the decision. However, in the spirit of open communication and data sharing, we wish to provide the Secretariat and other Parties with the attached information about our expected export levels from all sources within the United States. This trade currently involves meat, roe (caviar), and viable eggs. Lastly, the United States believes that any declared levels of Acipenseriformes exports from captive propagation facilities may be changed (with notice to the Secretariat) during the current calendar year, since this should not affect the status of wild populations.
If your office has any questions about the information provided, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Susan Lieberman, Ph.D.
Chief, Division of Scientific Authority
Chief, Division of Management Authority
Table 1. Expected export levels of native Acipenseriformes from the United States
Commercial trade permitted?
2001 expected exports
Atlantic and Gulf sturgeon
Shovelnose sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorhynchus
No documented international trade
1 No specimens exported from United States since taxon was listed in 1998.
2 Although the United States permits commercial harvest of this species, Canada has banned its possession and retention. Therefore, no intergovernmental catch or export quota can be established.
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