No. 2002/072
Geneva, 19 December 2002

Notification to the Parties


Trade in stony corals

1. With Notification to the Parties No.1999/41 of 31 May 1999, the Secretariat highlighted some of the difficulties that were encountered by the practice of identifying some corals in trade only to the level of genus or order. It was noted in this Notification that this issue had been referred to the Animals Committee for advice, but the Secretariat issued interim recommendations to the Parties on how to identify corals in trade. In particular, it was recommended that some genera be identified on permits and certificates to genus level only and some categories of coral (rock, sand and gravel) to a higher taxon level.

2. At the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, this and other related issues concerning trade in corals were addressed. As a result, the Parties adopted Decision 11.99, which directs the Animals Committee to:

provide advice to the Secretariat, for dissemination to the Parties, on the genera of corals for which it is practical to recognize specimens in trade to the level of species and the genera for which specimens in trade may be acceptably identified to the level of genus only for the purposes of implementing Resolutions Conf. 11.17 and Conf. 10.2 (Rev.).

A working group was established to consider this issue and their report and recommendations were accepted by the Animals Committee at its 18th meeting.

3. The Animals Committee noted the practical difficulties of identifying many corals in trade to species level. In some taxa, this is only possible with live specimens whilst the converse is true for other taxa, as indicated in subparagraphs 4 a) and d) below. The Animals Committee also assessed the risks and benefits of identifying some taxa only to genus level. It concluded that it is still preferable to identify corals in trade to the species level wherever possible. However, there will be circumstances in which such identification is not possible and identification to the genus level should be acceptable (see Resolution Conf. 11.17). Further background is provided in document AC18 Doc. 12.1, available on the Secretariat’s website.

4. The Secretariat agrees with the conclusions of the Animals Committee and hereby transmits the recommendations from the Committee in compliance with Decision 11.99. It should be noted that the Conference of the Parties has already agreed that coral sand and coral fragments (as defined in Annex 1 of Resolution Conf. 11.10) are not considered readily recognizable and are therefore not covered by the provisions of the Convention [see Resolution Conf. 9.6 (Rev.)], and the export and identification of coral rock in trade has been addressed in Resolution Conf. 10.2 (Rev.), section I, paragraphs i) - k). The following recommendations therefore do not apply to coral sand, coral fragments and coral rock.

Identification of corals to species level

a) Where feasible, all corals in trade should be identified to species level (as recommended in Resolution Conf. 11.17).

b) Parties should reject permits and certificates, pursuant to Resolution Conf. 10.2 (Rev.), section IX, paragraph e), for live or dead specimens unless indicated otherwise, of the following taxa unless they are identified to the species level. Specimens of species in the following genera must accordingly be identified on CITES permits and certificates to the species level:

i) all mono-specific genera (see document AC18
Doc. 12.1);

ii) the genera Blastomussa* Cladocora, Colpophyllia, Dichocoenia, Diploria, Euphyllia (live specimens only)*, Galaxea, Halomitra, Heteropsammia, Hydnophora*, Lithophyllon, Merulina, Mycedium, Oulophyllia, Pachyseris*, Physogyra (live specimens only), Plerogyra (live specimens only), Podabacia, Polyphyllia, Seriatopora*, Sandalolitha, Solenastrea; and

iii) all other species in genera not covered by the recommendations in this Notification.

c) Difficulties may arise for the identification of some species within the genera marked with an asterisk (*). Specific guidance in identification to species level for these (and other) genera may need to be produced for CITES authorities, enforcement officials, traders and other stakeholders. It should also be noted that identification is likely to be more accurate in exporting countries than at importing ports of entry because of changes in appearance that occur during shipment, for instance the coral polyps may be contracted. Additional caution is required in these circumstances and guidance to Customs officials on how best to handle specimens to enable accurate identification is desirable.

Identification to genus level

d) Live or dead specimens unless indicated otherwise, of species in the following genera may be identified on CITES permits and certificates to genus level only: Acanthastrea, Acropora, Agaricia, Anacrapora, Alveopora, Astreopora, Balanophyllia, Barabattoia, Caulastrea, Coscinaraea, Ctenactis, Cyphastrea, Dendrophyllia, Distichopora, Echinophyllia, Echinopora, Euphyllia (dead specimens only), Favia, Favites, Fungia, Goniastrea, Goniopora, Leptastrea, Leptoseris, Lobophyllia, Madracis, Millepora, Montastrea, Montipora, Mussismilia, Mycetophyllia, Oculina, Oxypora, Pavona, Pectinia, Physogyra (dead specimens only), Platygyra, Plerogyra (dead specimens only), Pocillopora, Porites, Psammocora, Scolymia, Siderastrea, Stylaster, Stylocoeniella, Stylophora, Symphyllia, Tubastrea and Turbinaria.

e) It is recommended that Parties accept this guidance as adequate justification, as required in Resolution Conf. 10.2 (Rev.), section IX, paragraph e), sub-paragraph ii), to accept permits for specimens that are identified to genus level only.

f) Parties should nevertheless identify specimens to genus level on permits only when it is definitely not possible to identify them to species level. It is frequently the case that only a few species of a particular genus are exported from, or occur in, a country, even if there are many species in the genus.

5. The present Notification replaces Notification to the Parties No. 1999/41 of 31 May 1999.