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CITES Amends Plant and Wildlife Trade Restrictions, Sets Broader Exemption for Rosewood Instruments

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species recently adopted widespread changes to international restrictions on trade in plants and wildlife at its triennial Conference of the Parties held Aug. 17-28 in Geneva. Among those changes are an expanded exemption from permit requirements for finished goods, including instruments, made from certain species of rosewood that will take effect sometime in November.

First proposed by Canada and the European Union in January (see 1901250028), revised Annotation #15 to the listing for rosewoods, palisanders and bubingas in CITES Appendix II now exempts “finished products to a maximum weight of wood of the listed species of 500g per item” and “finished musical instruments, finished musical instrument parts and finished musical instrument accessories” from the CITES import and export restrictions. That replaces language that had exempted “non-commercial exports of a maximum total weight of 10 kg. per shipment.” The change is set to take effect in late November, said the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM).

“The exemption for finished musical instruments is a common-sense measure that resolves a key implementation barrier for the otherwise essential rosewood listing,” said Charles Barber of the World Resources Institute, according to a NAMM policy update. “It will remove a major administrative permit burden on CITES authorities that did not have any substantive conservation impact, while continuing to regulate the raw material that goes into instruments.”

At the conference, CITES members also adopted a resolution “to initiate a new effort to streamline and simplify permit requirements for ‘the international movement of CITES specimens where the trade will have a negligible impact on the conservation of the species concerned,’” NAMM said. “This language was added and endorsed by the U.S. and the EU and can address the non-commercial cross-border movement of musical instruments by formulating recommendations to reduce the burdens associated with the CITES Musical Instrument Certificate,” the trade group said.

Overall, the conference “revised the trade rules for dozens of wildlife species that are threatened by unsustainable trade linked to overharvesting, overfishing or overhunting,” CITES said in a press release. “These ranged from commercially valuable fish and trees to charismatic mammals such as giraffes to amphibians and reptiles sold as exotic pets.”

Shark species were added to CITES Appendix II, including the blacknose and sharpnose guitarfishes, shortfin and longfin mako sharks, and white-spotted and other species of wedgefishes, CITES said. Also newly added to Appendix II were giraffes, to counter the animal’s decline in numbers and habitat loss. And “because the growing exotic pet trade has put enormous pressure on many species of turtle, lizard and gecko, CITES added a range of these species to the Appendices,” CITES said. On the other hand, the Mexican population of American crocodiles was transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II.

CITES also made several changes related to tropical timber. “Responding to high and increasing demand for African teak from western Africa, CITES broadened the need for trade permits to include plywood and other forms,” CITES said. “Malawi’s national tree, the rare Mulanje cedar, and the slow-growing mukula tree (a type of rosewood) of southern and eastern Africa, were also added to Appendix II. All Latin American species of cedar were listed in Appendix II,” it said.

Species listed in CITES Appendix II require export permits or certificates. Import permits are also required in addition to export permits for species listed in Appendix I. A full list of changes to the CITES lists as a result of the conference, as well as rejected proposals, is available (here). A report on discussions by CITES members during the conference is (here).