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 the Convention [Article I, paragraph e] as "transportation into a State of specimens of any species which were taken in the marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any State".

Recognizing that to facilitate the standard implementation of trade controls for “introduction from the sea” further guidance was needed, the Conference of the Parties in Resolution Conf. 14.6 (Rev. CoP16) adopted additional guidance regarding the practical implementation of these provisions.

Through the resolution, Parties agreed that ‘the marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any State means 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 (UNCLOS). These areas are commonly referred to as “high seas”. While introduction from the sea of specimens of species included in Appendix I and II is regulated by the Convention, these provisions do not apply for specimens of the Appendix III-listed species.

Pursuant to the guidance contained in the resolution, there are two primary sets of provisions that may apply for an Introduction from the Sea. When considering which provisions apply, the following issues need to be considered:

1) What is being taken? (Is the specimen listed in CITES Appendix I or II?)

2) Who is taking it? (Which State owns the vessel? Is the vessel chartered?)

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

4) In which State was it or will it be landed? (In the State where the vessel is registered or to another 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 of Article III, paragraphs 2 and 3 (for species in Appendix I), or Article IV, paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 (for species in Appendix II) should be applied, with the State in which the vessel that took the specimen is treated as the State of export and the State into which the specimen is transported treated as the State of import. This transaction therefore follows the same provisions as other import/export transactions. In order to distinguish such trade from other import/export transactions, Resolution Conf. 12.3 (Rev. CoP17)* 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.

Only 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 of Article III, paragraph 5, or Article IV, paragraphs 6 and 7, respectively, i.e. Introduction from the Sea should be applied; with that State being the State of introduction. Introduction from the Sea is therefore a one-state transaction.

IFS for species in Appendix I

As it is stated in Article III, paragraph 5 of the Convention, the introduction from the sea of any specimen of a species included in Appendix I requires the prior grant of a certificate from a Management Authority of the State of introduction. A certificate is only granted when:

-     a Scientific Authority of the State of introduction advises that the introduction will not be detrimental to the survival of the species involved;

-     a Management Authority of the State of introduction is satisfied that the proposed recipient of a living specimen is suitably equipped to house and care for it; and

-     a Management Authority of the State of introduction is satisfied that the specimen is not to be used for primarily commercial purposes.

IFS for species in Appendix II

According to Article IV, paragraphs 6 and 7 of the Convention, the introduction from the sea of any specimen of a species included in Appendix II requires the prior grant of a certificate from a Management Authority of the State of introduction. A certificate is only granted when the following conditions have been met:

-     a Scientific Authority of the State of introduction advises that the introduction will not be detrimental to the survival of the species involved; and

-     a Management Authority of the State of introduction is satisfied that any living specimen will be so handled as to minimize the risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment.

Aforementioned certificates can only be granted on the advice of a Scientific Authority, in consultation with other national scientific authorities or, when appropriate, international scientific authorities, in respect of periods not exceeding one year for total numbers of specimens to be introduced in such periods.

Chartering operations

Resolution Conf. 14.6 (Rev. CoP16) contains special provisions for chartering. In order for Parties to make use of these provisions a chartering operation has to be under a written arrangement between the State where the vessel is registered and the chartering State, consistent with the framework on chartering operations of a relevant Regional Fisheries Management Organization/Arrangement (RFMO/A). The CITES Secretariat has to be informed of this arrangement in advance of its entry into effect and has to make this arrangement available to all Parties and to any relevant RFMO/A.

If these requirements are met, Parties may apply the one-state transaction provisions (“Introduction from the Sea”) to a vessel registered in one State and chartered by another State when conducting introduction from the sea of CITES listed specimen Sea into the chartering State. For introduction from the sea by that same vessel into its flag state or a third state the import/export provisions should be applied.

The Secretariat through Decision 16.48 (Rev. CoP17) has been instructed to report to the Standing Committee on the implementation of the provisions on chartering contained in the Resolution and has done so in documents: SC65 Doc. 28, SC66. Doc.33, CoP17 Doc. 36 and SC69 Doc. 36.

For further information:         CITES/FAO presentation on Introduction from the Sea

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Resolutions, Decisions and Documents

Resolution Conf. 14.6 (Rev. CoP16) on Introduction from the sea

17.181, 16.48 (Rev. CoP17) to 16.51 (Rev. CoP17) on Introduction from the sea

Article I          Definitions

Article III       Regulation of Trade in Specimens of Species included in Appendix I

Article IV       Regulation of Trade in Specimens of Species included in Appendix II       

Article XIV    Effect on Domestic Legislation and International Conventions

Resolution Conf. 12.3 (Rev. CoP17)* on Permits and Certificates recommends that source code “X” should be used by the State of introduction to indicate the source of specimens that are taken in “the marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any State”