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Comparing interview and trade data in assessing changes in the seahorse Hippocampus spp. trade following CITES listing

  • Joy T.L. Lam (a1), Heather J. Koldewey (a2), Maï Yasué (a1) and Amanda C.J. Vincent (a1)

Concerns regarding the sustainability of the seahorse Hippocampus spp. trade led to their listing on CITES Appendix II in 2002, with implementation in 2004. In 2007 we interviewed wholesale traders of seahorses in Hong Kong, China, seeking indications of the effects of the CITES listing on the seahorse trade. We cross-validated traders’ perspectives with government trade statistics (1998–2007) from Hong Kong and Taiwan. We also compared these data with trade statistics for pipefish, which are related species with similar medicinal uses but are not CITES-listed. Both the interviews and government statistics indicated reduced volumes of seahorses traded through Hong Kong, changes in source countries, and price increases post-implementation. Traders suggested that these changes were largely a result of the CITES listing. However, data indicate that other factors such as shifts in domestic policies and local demand may also have affected the trade. By cross-validating the perspectives of local stakeholders with trade statistics in a wildlife trading hub we were able to explore hypotheses on the local and global impacts of CITES. Such approaches are especially important for CITES-listed species because often there is no single data source that is complete and wholly reliable.

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* Also at: University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
† Also at: Quest University Canada, Squamish, Canada
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