CITES regulates, Not Enforces
Formed in 1960, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is an international agreement between governments. Its goal is to ensure that international trade does not threaten the survival of plants and wildlife. Every year the convention meets and individual governments can propose whether a species should be listed or delisted on any of the Conventions 3 appendices.
- Appendix 1: endangered, can't trade it, no way, no how unless for scientific testing and without a note from God.
- Appendix 2: current trade practices and volumes will cause the species to become endangered unless regulation is brought to bear
- Appendix 3: same as 2 but more locally focused on a specific region.
The above appendices can come with global or regional export quotas and a variety of regulations to slow the usage of the particular species. This does not mean that a species is illegal at all but rather that specific export permits must be obtained to trade in that species. The paper trail is real and if you are using a CITES listed species it should be easily tracked where it came from and who exported it. In most cases it should be stated that a CITES species is NOT endangered (unless it is Appendix 1). Rather CITES species are in danger of becoming endangered unless we do something about it. In other words it is a proactive body that helps to prevent species from falling into major crises that may not be recoverable.
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