Staff from the SEAFDEC Secretariat, Training Department (TD), and Marine Fishery Resources Development and Management Department (MFRDMD) participated in the Regional Workshop on Implementation of the CITES for Seahorses in Asia organized in Cebu, Philippines from 14 to 17 March 2023. The Workshop was co-organized by Project Seahorse, IUCN SSC Seahorse, Pipefish and Seadragon Specialist Group, and Zoological Society of London-Philippines in collaboration with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and National Fisheries Research and Development Institute. The attendees of the Workshop include representatives from relevant government agencies (fisheries, forestry, coastal and marine resources, marine parks, environment) in Asia, experts from universities and local NGOs as well as representatives from FAO, TRAFFIC, and SEAFDEC.
The Regional Workshop was intended to help the CITES Parties assess the aspects of CITES implementation for Appendix II species: non-detriment findings (NDFs), legal acquisition findings (LAFs), monitoring in support of adaptive management, and enforcement. During the Workshop, the situation of the respective countries were analyzed based on these aspects and developed possible actions considering that exporting seahorses is legal and sustainable.
At the welcome session, SEAFDEC shared its significant role in supporting the ASEAN Member States (AMSs) in addressing international fish trade-related issues such as CITES. SEAFDEC have been undertaking several projects and activities to enhance the capacity of the AMSs on data collection of aquatic species under international concerns such as marine turtles, sharks and rays, sea cucumbers, tunas, anguillid eels, and others focusing on species identification, collection of data on catch/landings, stock assessment, socioeconomic assessment, development of non-detriment findings, aquaculture, and stock enhancement of the species (seahorses, eels, among others).
All seahorses are listed in CITES Appendix II since 2002. During the 74th Standing Committee, in particular to seahorses, it was noted that Parties can meet their obligations to seahorses under the Convention by either “a) increasing their efforts to address illegal trade” or “b) ensuring that the seahorses being traded are sourced sustainably and apply the CITES Appendix II listing following precautionary approach.”