Convention on international trade in endangered species

AC18 Doc. 7.1

CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES

OF WILD FAUNA AND FLORA

___________________

Eighteenth meeting of the Animals Committee

San José (Costa Rica), 8-12 April 2002

Implementation of Resolution Conf. 8.9 (Rev.)
(Decision 11.106)

progress on the implementation of the review of significant trade
(PhaseS iv and v)

This document has been prepared by the Secretariat.

Acipenseriformes (Phase IV)

1. The document in Annex 1 and the translations into French and Spanish have been prepared by TRAFFIC International in cooperation with IUCN and UNEP-WCMC, under contract to the CITES Secretariat.

2. Annex 1 consists of a review of four species of Acipenseriformes that are in commercial trade, and that were selected pursuant to Decision 11.95 directing the Animals Committee to include the Acipenseriformes in its Review of Significant Trade. The document deals with the following species of Acipenseriformes:

Acipenser oxyrinchus p. 3

Acipenser persicus p. 19

Acipenser transmontanus p. 37

Scaphirhynchus platorynchus p. 57

3. The relevant parts of Annex 1 have been sent to all range States of the species concerned, but comments from the range States have either not yet been received or not yet been incorporated in the document.

Testudinata (Phase IV)

4. The document in Annex 2 and the translations into French and Spanish have been prepared by IUCN, in cooperation with TRAFFIC and UNEP-WCMC, under contract to the CITES Secretariat.

5. It consists of a review of five species of testudines that were selected pursuant to Decision 11.93 requiring the Animals Committee to consider trade in specimens of CITES-listed freshwater turtles and tortoises in the context of the Review of Significant Trade. These five species are the following:

Cuora amboinensis p. 71

Cuora flavomarginata p. 95

Cuora galbinifrons p. 109

Lissemys punctata p. 121

Pyxis planicauda p. 137

6. The relevant sections of Annex 2 have been sent to all range States of the species concerned, but comments from the range States have either not yet been received or not yet been incorporated in the document.

Strombus gigas (Phase V)

7. At its 17th meeting (July 2001, Hanoi, Viet Nam), the Animals Committee decided to include Strombus gigas in Phase V of the Review of Significant Trade pursuant to Resolution Conf. 8.9 (Rev.). This species was also reviewed in Phase III of the Review of Significant Trade (initiated in September 1995). A consultant has been appointed by the Secretariat, and it is expected that a draft report on the results of the review will be available at the next meeting of the Animals Committee.

Annex 1

Acipenser oxyrinchusMitchill, 1814 Atlantic Sturgeon

Esturgeon de l’Atlantique

Esturion del Atlantico

Order: ACIPENSERIFORMES Family: ACIPENSERIDAE

SUMMARY

The Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus is native to Canada and the United States of America (hereafter referred to as the USA). The species comprises two subspecies; the Atlantic sturgeon Acipenseroxyrinchus oxyrinchus which occurs in both range States, and the Gulf sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi which is endemic to the USA. All further references to Atlantic sturgeon refer to the subspecies A. o. oxyrinchus and not the full species.The historical range of the Atlantic sturgeon covered most of the eastern seaboard of North America, from Hamilton Inlet in Labrador, Canada to the St. Johns River in Florida. Gulf sturgeon are believed to have inhabited most major river systems from the Mississippi River to the Suwanee River, Florida, and marine waters of the central and eastern Gulf of Mexico south to Florida Bay. The overall range of both the Atlantic sturgeon and Gulf sturgeon remains relatively constant in comparison with their historic ranges. However, over the past century or more, habitat alterations and other factors have reduced the spawning range to a distinct subset of rivers. Populations of both subspecies are reduced from historic levels due to over-exploitation, but the present level of abundance throughout the range is uncertain. Current threats to the species include habitat alteration (e.g. construction, agriculture and industry), as well as bycatch.

AdultAtlantic sturgeon inhabit mainly marine and brackish waters, ascending into fresh water for spawning only. Adults reach a size of up to 2 m and 60 kg, with a maximum lifespan of approximately 60 years. Sexual maturity varies: northern females mature at 24-28 years and males at 20-24 years, while southern females mature at 9-15 years and males at 7-9 years. Unlike Atlantic sturgeon, adult Gulf sturgeon spend 8-9 months each year in rivers. They grow to a length of up to 2.4-2.7 m and a weight of up to 200-225 kg, with a lifespan of around 42 years. Timing, location, and habitat requirements for Gulf sturgeon spawning are poorly known, but females may mature at 7-17 years old.

In the USA, the Gulf sturgeon is included in the Endangered Species Act as a “threatened” species and is fully protected from commercial harvest, but in 1998 it was decided that the Atlantic sturgeon should not be included under this legislation. Nonetheless, the Atlantic States of the USA have instituted a moratorium on all harvest of the Atlantic sturgeon that is likely to be in place for around 30 years. Harvest of the Atlantic sturgeon is restricted in Canada. No international trade in the species was reported from 1990-1995. During 1996-2000, trade has been composed mainly of meat and live specimens; Canada exported a total of 70 t of meat (all from wild sources), 18 110 live specimens and 4 000 fertilised eggs (all from captive-bred sources). Although annual export volumes show no consistent trend, it appears that, very generally, exports of meat are decreasing, and those of live specimens are increasing. The USA has been the largest importer of both Canada’s meat and live specimens. Canada sets annual harvest quotas for its commerical Atlantic sturgeon fisheries and has also suggested export levels for 2001.

Captive propagation ofGulf Surgeon is underway and restocking is considered necessary for the recovery of this threatened subspecies. Canada has produced hatchery-reared Atlantic sturgeon for scientific purposes for a number of years, and using captive bred stock from Canada, the USA plans to initiate its own facilities for research and for consumption within the USA.

The species is recommended under Decision 11.106 for inclusion in category 2/3.

DISTRIBUTION AND POPULATION

Also known as the black sturgeon, common sturgeon, Gulf of Mexico sturgeon, and the sea sturgeon, the CITES-listed species database gives the distribution of Acipenser oxyrinchus as: Bermuda; Canada; Mexico; and the USA (Anon., 2001a). However, the given distribution of Bermuda and Mexico is misleading and recent literature does not consider these countries to be range States, although it is conceivable that transient specimens will occasionally be found within the jurisdiction of these countries (J. Waldman, Hudson River Foundation for Science and Environmental Research, in litt. to IUCN/SSC Wildlife Trade Programme 24 October 2001; Dr M.R. Collins, Marine Resources Research Institute, in litt. to IUCN/SSC Wildlife Trade Programme 5 October 2001). Bermuda and Mexico are therefore not considered further as range States for A. oxyrinchus.

Note that although the CITES Checklists (Anon., 2001b; c) cite the spelling of the scientific name of Atlantic sturgeon as Acipenser oxyrhynchus, the correct spelling is actually Acipenser oxyrinchus (Anon., 2001a) and this spelling error will be corrected in subsequent editions.

IUCN categorises A. oxyrinchus and its subspecies as (Anon., 1996):

A. oxyrinchusLower Risk Near Threatened (LR/nt) Canada, Mexico, USA [Atlantic (northwest, western central], based on the species not being Conservation Dependant, but almost qualifying for Vulnerable.

A. o. desotoiVulnerable (VU A1c) Mexico, USA [Atlantic (western central)], based on an estimated, inferred or observed 20% population reduction over the last three generations as a result of a decline in area of occupancy, extent of occurrence and/or quality of habitat.

A. o. oxyrinchusLower Risk Near Threatened (LR/nt) Canada, USA [Atlantic (northwest, western central)]

The IUCN/SSC Sturgeon Specialist Group is currently reassessing the global Red List status of North American species and stocks of sturgeon and paddlefish. These reassessments will be submitted to the IUCN Red List Authority for sturgeon, to be evaluated for inclusion in the 2003 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The proposed categories are as follows:

Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus Atlantic sturgeon - Near Threatened (R. St. Pierre, IUCN/SSC Sturgeon Specialist Group in litt. to IUCN/SSC Wildlife Trade Programme 28 September 2001).

Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi Gulf sturgeon - Vulnerable (F.M. Parauka, Gulf Sturgeon Recovery Team Member, USFWS cited in R. St. Pierre, IUCN/SSC Sturgeon Specialist Group in litt. to IUCN/SSC Wildlife Trade Programme 28 September 2001).

The historical distribution of A. oxyrinchus is divided between that of two subspecies. The range of the Atlantic sturgeon (A.o. oxyrinchus) covered most of the eastern seaboard of North America, from Hamilton Inlet in Labrador, Canada to the St. Johns River in Florida. The other subspecies, the Gulf sturgeon (Acipenser o. desotoi), is believed to have occurred historically in most major river systems from the Mississippi River to the Suwanee River, Florida, and in marine waters of the central and eastern Gulf of Mexico south to Florida Bay (Wooley and Crateau, 1985).

The overall range of both the Atlantic sturgeon and Gulf sturgeon remains relatively constant. However, over the past century or more, human-caused habitat alterations and other factors have reduced spawning range to a distinct subset of rivers. The population of A. oxyrinchus is believed to be reduced from historic levels, but present abundance is uncertain throughout its range (Anon., 1995; Anon., 1998a). For management purposes, the USA authorities treat the two subspecies separately; all further references to Atlantic sturgeon therefore refer to the subspecies A. o. oxyrinchus and not the full species.

Atlantic sturgeon: Comprehensive information on current or historic abundance of A. o. oxyrinchus is lacking for most river systems. Overfishing, habitat degradation, and other factors believed to have affected the abundance of the Atlantic sturgeon took place in the absence of concrete scientific baseline data, making it difficult to quantify precisely the extent of its decline (Anon., 1998a).

Canada

A. o. oxyrinchus has historically been reported as far north as the lower George River in Ungava Bay and Hamilton Inlet in Labrador. The Atlantic sturgeon is currently found in Quebec in the Gulf of St. Lawrence from the Blanc Sablon on the Quebec side of the Strait Belle Isle, and in the St. Lawrence River up to Trois Rivières, and occasionally further upriver. Atlantic sturgeon have also been captured on the Gulf of St. Lawrence shore in Newfoundland; in the Mirimichi River, New Brunswick; and at Cheticamp, Aspy Bay, Canso Straits, and Halifax in Nova Scotia. In the Bay of Fundy, Atlantic sturgeon were found in studies in the 1960s to be abundant in the New Brunswick’s Saint John River, and were reported in the Minas basin and the Avon River. It is likely that Atlantic sturgeon once spawned in the Mirimichi, Shubenacadie, and La Have rivers. It is also believed that A. o. oxyrinchus probably spawned historically in the Annapolis River in Nova Scotia, but it is not known whether the population was extirpated following construction of a tidal power project (Anon., 1998a).

USA

A. o. oxyrinchus is believed to have been present historically in approximately 34 rivers, from the Penobscot in Maine to the St. Johns in Florida. The current range has contracted slightly, and reaches from the Kennebec River, Maine to the Satilla River, Georgia (absence from the Penobscot River is uncertain). Available information shows continuing uncertainty about the abundance or even presence of the Atlantic sturgeon in some river systems, while extensive research and monitoring work is done in others (Anon., 1998a).

Maine: The historic northern limit of the USA population is believed to be Maine’s Penobscot River. In the late 1990s, the only river system within New England with a confirmed spawning population was the estuarial complex of Maine’s Kennebec, Androscoggin, and Sheepscot rivers. Atlantic sturgeon may also use the estuaries of smaller Maine rivers during summer months, although most of these coastal rivers are not suitable for spawning (Anon., 1998a).

New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut: A. o. oxyrinchus are believed toinhabit several rivers in these states, but during the late 1990s there was no evidence of spawning populations. While a few Atlantic sturgeon have been captured in the Piscataqua River/Great Bay Estuary system in New Hampshire, these appear to be isolated events. There are historic and recent reports of adult Atlantic sturgeon in the Merrimack River (New Hampshire and Massachusetts). While there is no indication of spawning, there is evidence that the river is used as a nursery ground by sub-adults. In the Taunton River (Massachusetts and Rhode Island), Connecticut River (Massachusetts and Connecticut), Thames River (Connecticut), and Housatonic River (Connecticut), there are historic reports of spawning populations dating to the 1700s. However, in recent times there is no evidence of spawning, and stocks of Atlantic sturgeon native to these river systems are believed to be extirpated (Anon., 1998a).

New York: New York’s Hudson River is believed to have been a historically important spawning river for A. o. oxyrinchus. The Hudson River supported spawning as recently as 1997, although efforts to confirm the presence of mature Atlantic sturgeon in that year resulted in the capture of only males (Anon., 1998a).

New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania: The Delaware River may have supported the largest historical stock of Atlantic sturgeon of any coastal river system. Possible spawning grounds were reported as far north as Bordentown, New Jersey, just below Trenton. The continued presence of juveniles one-year old or less and adult sturgeon indicate that the Delaware River and Bay continue to serve as a spawning ground (Anon., 1998a).

The Chesapeake Bay and tributaries in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia: This system comprises another complex of rivers and estuaries where A. o. oxyrinchus was historically common. Important rivers with historical and some modern reports of sturgeon spawning grounds or presence include the Potomac, Rappahannock, York, James, Susquehanna, and Nanticoke (Anon., 1998a).

North Carolina: A. o. oxyrinchus was historically abundant in most of North Carolina’s coastal rivers and estuaries, including the Roanoke, Tar-Pamlico, Neuse, Cape Fear, and Brunswick rivers and the Albemarle Sound system. Data indicate that spawning continues to occur in the Roanoke River/Albemarle Sound system and the Cape Fear River, and is also thought to have occurred recently in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico rivers (Anon., 1998a).

South Carolina: A. o. oxyrinchus was present historically in many South Carolina rivers/estuaries, although it is not certain where spawning occurred. A NMFS-coordinated study concluded from sampling conducted within the last two decades that Atlantic sturgeon were present in the Great PeeDee, Waccamaw, and Sampit rivers, all of which are tributaries to Winyah Bay; the Santee River, Lake Moultrie, Cooper River, Ashley River, South Edisto River, Ashepoo River, and Combahee River, all of which are tributaries to St. Helena Sound; the Broad/Coosawhatchie River; and, the Savannah River. Based on the collection of juveniles, it is believed that spawning occurs in the Santee River, one or more of the Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto Basin tributaries, the Savannah, and possibly the Cooper, Great PeeDee, and Waccamaw rivers (Anon., 1998a).

Georgia and Florida: The Altamaha River in Georgia is believed to support one of the largest A. o. oxyrinchus populations in the southeast, based on the presence of more than 2 000 juveniles found in a sample using trammel nets. Another population of Atlantic sturgeon also exists in Georgia’s Ogeechee River, although recent sampling efforts suggest that juveniles are scarce or absent in some years, indicating spawning or recruitment failure. Similarly, it is believed that a population of Atlantic sturgeon persists in the Satilla River in Georgia. Recent sampling indicates that the Atlantic sturgeon has been extirpated from some rivers at the southern extent of its range. These include the St. Marys River in Georgia and Florida, and possibly Florida’s St. Johns, St. Augustine, and St. Lucie rivers. It is unknown whether these rivers were ever used for spawning or merely by migrating populations.

Gulf sturgeon:A. o. desotoi is endemic to the USA. States within its range include:

Louisiana: Along with very occasional captures offshore, A. o. desotoi has been recorded in the Mermantau River Basin and in the Mississippi River and its Basin. In the Lake Pontchartrain Basin, Gulf sturgeon have been collected by Louisiana state researchers and commercial and recreational fishermen in Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Borgne, and the Rigolets. Incidental catches of Gulf sturgeon have also been reported in the Tchefuncte, Tickfaw, Tangipahoa, Amite, Pearl, Middle Pearl, Bogue Chitto, and East Pearl rivers. Incidental catches and Gulf sturgeon collected in research studies have been similarly reported in the Mississippi Sound, as well as at least one incidentally taken fish in Biloxi Bay (Anon., 1995).

Mississippi: A. o. desotoi has been recorded in both Pascagoula Bay and the Pascagoula River. Also in this basin, Gulf sturgeon have been reported in the Chickasawhay, Leaf, and West Pascagoula rivers, which are tributaries of the Pascagoula River (Anon, 1995).

Alabama: A. o. desotoi are reported to be present in the Mobile River Basin, which includes Mobile Bay, the Mobile River, and tributaries such as the Tensaw, Blakely, Tombigbee, and Alabama rivers. Incidental catches of Gulf sturgeon have occurred in the Tombigbee River in the remaining riverine habitat below Coffeeville Dam and in the Alabama River in remaining habitat below Claiborne Dam (Anon., 1995).

Florida: A Gulf sturgeon was collected in Pensacola Bay in 1978, and the subspecies has been recorded in the Escambia River by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as recently as 1994. Incidental catches of sturgeon have also been reported in that river, but recreational anglers have said that sightings are far less common when compared to the period prior to 1980. Annual sightings are also reported on the Conecuh River, a tributary of the Escambia. Other rivers in this system in which Gulf sturgeon have been captured and released during the 1990s by either the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission or the USFWS include the Blackwater and Yellow rivers (Anon., 1995).

A. o. desotoi have been collected by federal, state, or university researchers in the Florida’s Choctawhatchee Bay Basin. By far the greatest number were found in the Choctawhatchee River during tagging and release studies in the first half of the 1990s, and annual sightings are reported from the river below its confluence with the Pea River in south-central Alabama, as well as in the Pea River tributary itself (Anon., 1995). A population estimate published in 2000 for Gulf sturgeon older than age 2 in the Choctawhatchee River indicated a range of 1 700-3 000 fish (Lorio, 2000 cited in R. St. Pierre, IUCN/SSC Sturgeon Specialist Group, in litt. to IUCN/SSC Wildlife Trade Programme 28 September 2001).

The Apalachicola River contains a monitored Gulf sturgeon population. From 1984 to 1993, the estimated annual number of adult fish ranged from 96-131, with a mean of 115. Gulf sturgeon have also been caught by commercial gillnet fishermen and shrimp trawlers in Apalachicola Bay, and in the Brothers River, a tributary of the Apalachicola River. There was also a report of a large Gulf sturgeon (207 kg) in the Flint River near Albany, Georgia prior to the completion of the Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam in 1957. Juvenile fish have been recorded in the Ochlockonee River, part of the Ochlockonee River Basin (Anon., 1995).

Farther east and south, the Suwanee River Basin is believed to support the most viable Gulf sturgeon population in the region. Mark and release efforts by the Caribbean Conservation Corporation from 1986 to 1995 recorded 1 670 spring-migrating sturgeon at the mouth of the Suwanee River. The 1995 U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)/Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC) Gulf Sturgeon Recovery/Management Plan estimated that the annual population size ranged between 2 250-3 300 Gulf sturgeon, with an average weight of approximately 18 kg (Anon., 1995). A 1999 report estimated that the population included 7650 individuals older than 2 years (Sulak and Clugston, 1999 cited in R. St. Pierre, IUCN/SSC Sturgeon Specialist Group, in litt. to IUCN/SSC Wildlife Trade Programme 28 September 2001).

Tampa Bay has been the site of occasional captures of Gulf sturgeon. Charlotte Harbor Basin has also produced recorded specimens of juvenile and adult fish (Anon., 1995).

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