Introduction from the Sea

Introduction from the sea (IFS) is one of the four types of trade regulated under CITES (the others are import, export, and re-export). IFS is defined in Article 1 of the Convention as transportation into a State of specimens of any species which were taken in the marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any State. Introduction from the sea of specimens of species included in Appendix I and II is regulated by the Convention, but not specimens of Appendix III-listed species (App. III only contains species that fall under the jurisdiction of the listing Party).

The Conference of the Parties has adopted additional guidance regarding the practical implementation of these provisions in Resolution Conf. 14.6 (Rev. CoP16) Introduction from the sea. With new marine species added to the Appendices at each meeting of the CoP, correct and effective implementation of the provisions on introduction from the sea becomes increasingly important for the conservation of these species.

For further information on IFS, see CITES/FAO Presentation: English, French, Spanish.

Provisions of the Convention

Current activities

At CoP18, the Standing Committee directed the Secretariat to:
  • continue to monitor the implementation of Resolution Conf. 14.6, including the provisions on chartering and report as appropriate to the Standing Committee. 
  • report on the results of the negotiations of the development of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). 

The Secretariat is also collaborating with FAO to develop guidance on the linkages between CITES and fisheries legislation. 

Queries

Many Parties find it challenging to implement the introduction from the sea provisions in the Convention. The Secretariat has collected some examples  (See SC70 Doc. 34)   from Parties that are issuing IFS certificates and is available to assist Parties facing challenges in implementing and enforcing the convention effectively. Any general questions on IFS can be addressed to CITES Secretariat.

Understanding IFS in practice

In Resolution Conf. 14.6 (Rev. CoP16), Parties agreed that ’the marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any State’ means those marine areas beyond the areas subject to the sovereignty or sovereign rights of a State consistent with international law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. These areas are commonly referred to as ‘high seas’. Pursuant to the guidance contained in the Resolution, the transaction may be authorized with either 1. An Introduction from the sea certificate or 2. A ‘normal’ export (and import) permit. Whether it is 1 or 2 depends on the flag State of the vessel that is used for the harvest of the specimens of CITES-listed species and the State in which the specimens will be landed.

When considering which provisions to apply to authorize the introduction of specimens of CITES-listed species from the marine environment, the following issues need to be considered: 

1) Where is it taken from? (Is it under the jurisdiction of a State or is it taken in high seas?)
2) Who is taking it? (Under which flag is the vessel flying/in which State is it registered? Is the vessel chartered?)
3) In which State was it or will it be landed? (In the State where the vessel is registered or another State?
4) What is being taken? (Is it a specimen of a species listed in CITES Appendix I or in Appendix II?)

 

Note that it makes no difference for CITES whether the specimen is caught as by-catch or as a targeted species. The provisions of CITES apply in both situations if the specimens are transported into a State.

1) Where is it taken from? (Is it under the jurisdiction of a State or is it taken in high seas?)

Introduction from the sea only applies when specimens are taken in the high seas - in areas not under the jurisdiction of any State. Different provisions apply depending on where the vessel taking the specimens is registered and where the specimens will be landed. See under 3 below.

2) Who is taking it? (Under which flag is the vessel flying or in which State is it registered Is the vessel chartered)?

It is important for the application of the provisions of the Convention to determine the flag State of the vessel. If the flag State is the same as the State of introduction, then the provisions on IFS in the Convention applies. However, if the flag State is different from the State of introduction, the provisions on import/export will apply – see below. Resolution Conf. 14.6 (Rev. CoP16) contains special provisions for chartering. See more here.

3) In which State will it be landed? (In the State where the vessel is registered or to another State?)

A. Vessel registered in one State transports high-sea specimen into the same State (‘one-state transaction’)

When any specimen of a species included in Appendix I or II is taken in the marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any State by a vessel registered in one State and is transported into that same State, the provisions on introduction from the sea applies. These are contained in Article III, paragraph 5 for species in Appendix I, and Article IV, paragraphs 6 and 7 for species included in Appendix II. The State will issue the IFS certificate in accordance with these provisions (more here).

B. Vessel registered in one State transports high-sea specimen into a different State

In the case that a vessel registered in one State transports specimen of a species included in Appendix I or II which is taken in the marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any State into a different State, the provisions related to import/export applies. This means Article III, paragraphs 2 and 3 for species in Appendix I, or Article IV, paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 for species in Appendix II. The State in which the vessel that took the specimen is registered (flag State) is treated as the State of export and the State into which the specimen is transported is treated as the State of import. In order to distinguish such trade from other import/export transactions, Resolution Conf. 12.3 (Rev. CoP18) recommends that Parties use the source code X (“Specimens taken in the marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any State”) in their annual reporting to the CITES trade database.  See the webpage on the CITES permit system for more information.

 

4) What is being taken? (Is it a specimen of a species listed in CITES Appendix I or II?)

In the case of a one-State transaction involving a specimen of a species included in Appendix I or II, the Management Authority of the State of introduction may authorize the introduction through an Introduction from the sea certificate. See more here.

In case of an import/export situation involving specimens of a species in Appendix I taken in the high seas, the Management Authority of the State of introduction (which is treated as the state of import) must issue an import permit in accordance with Art. III, paragraph 3, and the Management Authority of the flag State of the vessel (treated as the State of export) must issue an export permit in accordance with Art. III, paragraph 2. 

In case of an import/export situation involving specimens of a species in Appendix II taken in the high seas, the Management Authority of the flag State of the vessel must issue an export permit in accordance with Art. IV, paragraph 2.

If the specimens are taken in the environment under the jurisdiction of a State or if the specimens are taken from the high seas but of a species in Appendix III, the transaction is not covered by the provisions on Introduction from the sea, but covered by CITES normal procedures; see the webpage on the CITES permit system for more information.

Non-detriment Findings

As noted above, a non-detriment finding is required for the issuance of IFS-certificates. It is up to Scientific authorities to make NDFs, but the Conference of the Parties has adopted a set of non-binding guidelines in Resolution Conf. 16.7 (Rev CoP16) Non-detriment findings. For NDFs for sharks, specific guidelines and examples have been shared by Parties.

See for instance NDFs for silky shark, smooth hammerhead shark and spinetail devil ray that have been made available by New Zealand and NDFs for scalloped hammerhead, smooth hammerhead and great hammerhead that have been made available by the United States.

These and more information on NDFs can be found on the CITES webpage on NDFs.