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CITES Expands Endangered Species List

Posted September 03, 2014

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) more than 120 nations regulate international trade to prevent the decline of species threatened (listed in Appendix I of Cites) or potentially threatened (listed in Appendix II) with extinction.  Trade, which is defined as import, export, or re-export, of a long list of such threatened animal and plant species, is either virtually prohibited (Appendix I species) or restricted (Appendix II or III species).
Peacock Feather
CITES recently announced the addition of sixteen species to its list of controlled species, Appendix III. Species under Appendix III are subject to enhanced restrictions and require additional documentation upon importation. Included in the list of amendments are several species of the Phasianidae family; two kinds of Asian pheasants, but most notably, Pavo cristatus (Indian peafowl or blue peafowl) – i.e., peacocks.

The peacock population is dwindling fast due to habitat loss, contamination of food sources and poaching.  The Indian Peafowl is endangered and the Green Peafowl is nearly, if not absolutely, extinct. Peacock feathers are widely used in home decor and decoration, mask making and millinery applications, costume and theater productions, wedding decoration, etc.

Peacock Feathers originating from Pakistan were already listed in Appendix III and therefore require a CITES export permit to be legally imported into the United States. The change means that peacock feathers coming from other regions will also now require a CITES certificate of origin issued by the CITES enforcing authority of the exporting country. CBP has issued a directive in this regard stating that, “Permits must be issued prior to shipping and the original must be submitted to the port office with a declaration BEFORE customs clearance is received for the freight. These shipments NO LONGER QUALIFY for a domesticated species exemption.”

Five additional species of sturgeon from various parts of the world have also been listed as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (50 CFR Part 224) and will therefore be included in CITES Appendix I: Acipenser naccarii (Adriatic sturgeon); Acipenser sturio (European sturgeon) in western Europe; Acipenser sinensis (Chinese sturgeon) in the Yangtze River basin; Acipenser mikadoi (Sakhalin sturgeon); and Huso dauricus (Kaluga sturgeon).

According to the IUCN, over 85% of sturgeon species are classified as at risk of extinction, making them more critically endangered than any other group of species. The new listing makes it illegal to import into or export from the United States any of these sturgeon species, including live or dead specimens, parts or products. It also provides for various domestic prohibitions.

Click here for more information on the CITES compliance and enforcement regime.