Dear Steve:

Pete Giwojna

Dear Steve:

Ocean Rider appreciates your interest in our superior strains of highly domesticated seahorses a great deal, of course, Steve, but unfortunately you will not be able to receive any of our specimens on the other side of the pond. You see, Ocean Rider ( only ships their livestock within the Continental United States, so you will be unable to obtain any of our ponies or pipefish in the United Kingdom, sir.

As you know, Steve, all seahorses (the entire genus Hippocampus) are now protected under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The CITES regulations cover the importation and exportation of seahorses (Hippocampus sp.). In short, they help regulate the international trade in seahorses.

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between Governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival (CITES Secretariat, 2004).

Because the trade in seahorses crosses borders between countries, the effort to regulate it requires international cooperation to safeguard certain species from over-exploitation.

CITES establishes a system of import/export regulations to prevent the over-exploitation of plants and animals listed in three appendices to the Convention. Different levels of trade regulations are provided depending on the status of the listed species and the contribution trade makes to decline of the species (CITES Secretariat, 2004).

CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. These require that all import, export, re-export and introduction from the sea of species covered by the Convention has to be authorized through a licensing system. (‘Re-export’ means export of a specimen that was imported.)(CITES Secretariat, 2004)

The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need.

Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction and has the strictest regulations that provide the highest level of protection. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances (CITES Secretariat, 2004). Appendix I includes animals such as elephants and tigers, and emphasizes that no trading of any kind be permitted anywhere in the world at any time.

Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival (CITES Secretariat, 2004). Appendix II allows for regulated and sustainable trade. It has moderate restrictions which do not prohibit the sale and trade of the listed species entirely.

Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES member countries for assistance in controlling the trade (CITES Secretariat, 2004). It is the least restrictive and provides a lesser degree of protection.

Seahorses are listed on Appendix II. Trading in seahorses is thus not banned altogether under CITES, but an export permit or re-export certificate issued by the Management Authority of the State of export or re-export is required.

An export permit may be issued only if the specimen was legally obtained and if the export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species, and the permits specify that live seahorses must be prepared and shipped to minimize any risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment (CITES Secretariat, 2004).

No import permit is needed unless required by national law.

The Appendix II listing means any member country wishing to export seahorses will have to demonstrate that no wild populations are harmed by the trade in order to obtain the necessary export permits and certificates (this is called a “Non-Detriment Finding”). Meeting the “Non-Detriment Finding” required to export seahorses merely involves showing that they meet the minimum size limit of at least 4 cm in total length (i.e., height), but to do so requires an inspection of every specimen by the proper permit authority, which is prohibitively expensive.

In a nutshell, it is simply too time-consuming and costly to obtain all of the necessary paperwork and satisfy the permit requirements in order to export seahorses internationally at this time, Mr. Foxall. For these reasons, Ocean Rider will be unable to provide livestock for you in the UK, sir.

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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