There is no specific requirement in the text of the Convention to establish quotas to limit the trade in CITES-listed species. Nevertheless, the use of export quotas has become such an effective tool for the regulation of international trade in wild fauna and flora that, at its 14th meeting (The Hague, 2007), the Conference of the Parties adopted Resolution Conf. 14.7 (Rev. CoP15) on Management of nationally established export quotas.
Export quotas are usually established by each Party unilaterally, but they can also be set by the Conference of the Parties, and they generally relate to a calendar year (1 January to 31 December).
Before any Party may issue a permit to allow export of specimens of species in Appendix I or II, its Scientific Authority must be satisfied and advise that the proposed export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species (the so-called 'non-detriment finding' in Article III, paragraph 2 (a), and Article IV, paragraph 2 (a), of the Convention). The setting of an export quota by a Party may meet this requirement by establishing the maximum number of specimens of a species that may be exported over the course of a year without having a detrimental effect on its survival. The responsibility for establishing quotas thus lies with each individual Party (unless they have been set by the Conference of the Parties).
When a country sets its own national export quotas for CITES species, it should inform the Secretariat [see Resolution Conf. 12.3 (Rev. CoP18)], which in turn informs the Parties. Early each year, the Secretariat publishes a Notification to the Parties containing the explanatory notes on the export quotas of which it has been informed. The list of annual export quotas since 2000 is provided below:
- 2020 (DOC format)
- 2019 (Additional export quotas for 2019 can be found here)
- 2018 (Additional export quotas for 2018 can be found here)
- 2015 (Available also in PDF format, DOC format)
Except for the year 2000, they exclude the sturgeon quotas which are available here.
The Conference of the Parties establishes export quotas in a variety of circumstances. These quotas are either specified in the CITES Appendices [e.g. for the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and for the African spurred tortoise (Geochelone sulcata)] or in a Resolution of the Conference of the Parties [e.g. Resolution Conf. 10.14 (Rev. CoP16) for the leopard (Panthera pardus), Resolution Conf. 10.15 (Rev. CoP14) for the markhor (Capra falconeri) and Resolution Conf. 13.5 (Rev. CoP18) for black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) hunting trophies].
The quotas specified in the Appendices are usually established only when there are concerns about a species transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II. In this case, the quotas are specified in annotations to Appendices I and II. The Conference of the Parties has provided relevant guidance in Annex 4 to Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP17) (Criteria for amendment of Appendices I and II) and in Resolution Conf. 11.21 (Rev. CoP18) (Use of annotations in Appendices I and II).