The purpose of the AFA CITES Committee is to monitor or participate in the CITES meetings, CITES animal’s committee meetings, and/or to assist the USFWS when information about the trade in parrots or their keeping and breeding is needed. Since CITES is set up in tiers, much of our “ground-level” experience is first offered at the CITES animal's committee level. It is surprising how often aviculture’s opinions on Psittacine issues is agreeable to that of the USFWS, and frequently their proposals parallel our concerns on the same subjects. In the past, the USFWS has granted the AFA official NGO (Non-governmental observer) status so we can attend animal’s committee meetings and provide input. As well, the chairman of the animal's committee has frequently extended an official invitation for the AFA committee chair to attend the meetings. This IS “our” voice to those that govern the trade in birds and animals on an international basis.
1. The term "CITES" stands for "Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species".
1. Many aviculturists are confused about our wildlife laws and how they "interact" with each other. One of the most confusing points is that CITES Appendix I listed species are not always "US Endangered Species". This is because the US ESA or United States Endangered Species Act protects or lists species that meet certain criteria, not necessarily the same as the criteria to list them on CITES Appendix I.
2. Many of the larger macaws are listed on CITES Appendix I, and therefore their International trade (commercial) is prohibited except as captive-bred birds coming from a CITES approved facility. CITES Appendix I includes the Spix's macaw, Lear's, Scarlet, Military, Buffon's, Blue-throated, Hyacinth, Red-fronted, Blue-headed, and Illiger's macaws.
Yet the U.S. ESA does not include all of these same macaws. To date the ESA lists only the Spix's, Lear's, Blue-throated, Buffon’s, and military macaws. So, for all intents and purposes here in the United States, no federal level permits are required to own, breed, or sell the ESA listed and CITES listed species. But, some States use the ESA federal list as their own internal State list of restricted species, and if you live in such a State, you may be breaking the law simply by owning a species listed on the federal list. Any shipping or international movement requires permits from both the federal and CITES level management authorities. The USFWS is working on incorporating many of the CITES resolutions into our domestic laws for the future and we must keep an eye on the regulations to make sure that these commonly kept and bred species are not restricted internally within the United States and/or on a State by State basis. The American Federation of Aviculture, Inc. monitors the Federal Register for any pending legislation that would affect bird keeping here in the U.S.
3.Currently the United States Endangered Species Act includes the following parrot species (often found here in aviculture) and any movement across a State line that involves money or commerce would require federal permits. To loan or donate one of these species to another breeder in another State, or within your own State does not require the federal permit, but may require a State permit depending on which State you live or plan to move the bird to. NOTE: All of these species are also listed on either CITES Appendix I or II and would require US Federal and CITES permits to ship in International Commerce.
(US Avicultural species listed on the US Endangered Species Act) Vinaceous, Red-browed, Puerto Rican, Red-necked, Red-tailed, St. Vincent's, and Cuban amazons. Golden and Blue-throated Conures, Thick-billed parrots, Pileated Parrots (South American), Golden-shouldered parakeets, Red-vented cockatoos, Lesser Sulphur-crested and citron-crested cockatoos, and Military, Buffon’s, and Blue-throated macaws. Recently more species have been added to this Act, some have been exempted from federal interstate commerce permit requirements due to their pet-trade popularity here in the U.S. but may still be illegal in some States. These include the Moluccan cockatoo and the Umbrella cockatoo.
4. Even though we call many of the parrot species now found on CITES Appendix I, Endangered, for our purposes here in the United States, with the exception of the short list above, they are not regulated unless we plan to ship them across an International border (yes, even Canada or Mexico). The list of CITES Appendix I parrots is extensive and includes many of the birds we breed and sell into our domestic pet trade. For a complete list, you can contact the USFWS in Washington, at 800-358-2104, or visit www.cites.org.
1. Parrots are an important focus under CITES. Literally every meeting of the Parties involves some discussion about parrots and their International trade under the treaty. The many NGO groups provide data pertaining to parrots in the wild, and the current status of their habitats and numbers. Many of the NGO groups that attend would be familiar to bird breeders. Some of them include the North American Falconer's Association, The Humane Society of the United States, PETA, Pet Industry Joint Advisory Counsel, Save the Whales, Animal Welfare Institute, Environmental Investigation Agency, AFA, World Parrot Trust, WWF Traffic, European Falconer's Association, and many, many more. These and other NGO organizations contribute their input to each and every discussion regarding the trade in birds and other animals.
2. CITES also has subcommittees. The one that would include birds is called the "CITES Animal's Committee". These committees are charged with gathering information to be presented at the formal Convention of the Parties. Much of the work that would pertain to the AFA is accomplished at this committee level. Thankfully the committee level is a little more personal than the COP meetings, and it is easier to raise concerns or present information that will then be used to formulate suggestions to the COP Parties.
3. One of the most important resolutions affecting parrot breeders pertains to International Trade in Appendix I species that were bred in captivity. The CITES Convention provides for trade in Appendix I species to take place as if they were on Appendix II- if they are bona fide captive-bred animals. On the surface it sounds like something very easy to qualify, however, the Parties have had much trouble defining "Bred in Captivity" in such a way that it would not affect "wild" birds and animals covered under Appendix I. Technically, the definition used can not affect any animal that was taken from the wild. Therefore, the definition that has been adopted eliminates all F1 (first generation captive-bred animals from qualifying because their parents were wild-caught). This way, to qualify as an animal "bred in captivity", an animal must be F2 (second generation captive-bred) or higher to be considered for trade as an Appendix II listed species. Furthermore, CITES has devised a "system of facility registration" where governmental organizations can verify that animals are actually being bred to the second generation. Unfortunately, the rules under these resolutions have been so confusing and so rigid that there are only a handful of registered bird breeding facilities that have even registered for this exemption under CITES. The whole system is in need of review and hopefully will be changed at some point in the future.
4. Another subject of heated debate at these meetings is the term "for commercial purposes". Under the Convention, a government must ascertain whether a facility breeds its animals for "primarily commercial purposes" or whether they are a "non-commercial" entity. After many discussions it has been agreed that unless you breed an animal species for a direct release program or approved conservation program, you are considered a commercial breeder and therefore must qualify under the current registration scheme in order to engage in International trade with an Appendix I species...traded as Appendix II. On the surface this angers many breeders as they often consider themselves as a non-commercial breeder. But technically all breeding is commercially driven unless all offspring are donated back into a conservation program that directly benefits the wild population of the same species. This means that if you have only one pair of Appendix I birds, and you breed them and sell your offspring to other breeders or the pet trade, you are a commercial breeder! Even many zoos are considered "commercial facilities" if they do not participate in "Species Survival Plans" that eventually will directly benefit the species in the wild. Under CITES, the trade in CITES Appendix I species for commercial purposes is strictly controlled.
5. Habitat preservation and restoration is not a primary part of CITES and its resolutions at this time. However there have been several important discussions about how the Convention can begin to include such conservation. It will be very interesting to see just how they resolve these issues.