Profiling the new non-detriment finding tool © TRAFFIC

Profiling the new non-detriment finding tool © TRAFFIC


Published 5 October 2018


New tool to help assess safe sustainable offtake levels

Sochi, Russian Federation, 5th October 2018—The German Government this week unveiled a new tool developed by Blue Resources Trust and MarAlliance to help staff of national agencies implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) assess safe harvesting levels for shark and ray species in trade.

The tool, based on a guide TRAFFIC was key in producing with German Government funding, was unveiled during a meeting held in the periphery of the 70th Standing Committee of CITES currently taking place in Sochi, Russian Federation. It guides users through their responses to a series of structured questions leading to an assessment of what level—if any—of offtake can be considered sustainable and therefore how many animals can be exported. 

This critical process, undertaken by CITES Management Authorities, is known as determining a non-detriment finding (NDF) and is a requirement under the Convention before an export permit can be issued for the species concerned. 

Determining a robust NDF is a key challenge facing governments in implementing their obligations under CITES. However, variations in how to determine NDFs, as well as a consistent approach in how to carry out the process have led to a range of approaches among the more than 180 Parties to the Convention. 

In 2014, thanks to funding from the German Government, TRAFFIC developed guidelines for determining NDFs for plants and shark and ray species. The new tool complements the shark and ray guidelines, aiming to make the whole process as consistent and uniformly applied as possible. Once field tested, there is scope to expand the semi-automated process even further by adapting it to other CITES listed species. 

“The goal is to make it as easy as possible for CITES Parties to establish non-detriment findings and establish uniformity across the board in making them so that eventually all Parties will follow the same procedures. This will give consistency and a solid basis for all decisions on what constitutes a sustainable level of trade,” said Glenn Sant, TRAFFIC, Fisheries Trade Programme Leader.