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Trade Documentation Requirements for Four Freshwater Turtle Species Now in Effect

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a reminder that the addition of the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), Florida softshell turtle (Apalone ferox), smooth softshell turtle (Apalone mutica) and spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) to Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora was effective 21 November. As of that date all exports and re-exports of these species from the United States must be accompanied by valid U.S. CITES Appendix III documents (i.e., an FWS permit) and all imports must be accompanied by valid foreign CITES Appendix III documents. These requirements apply to all live and dead whole specimens as well as all readily recognizable parts, products and derivatives. However, these requirements do not apply to parts or products for personal use that qualify as accompanying personal baggage or household goods.

Appendix III of CITES includes native species regulated to prevent or restrict exploitation where a country requests the help of others to monitor and control the trade of the species. Any CITES party may add a native species to (or remove it from) Appendix III independently at any time. According to the FWS, inclusion in Appendix III provides the following benefits.

  • Permitting requirements are imposed to control international trade in listed species.
  • Shipments containing listed species receive greater scrutiny from border officials in both exporting and importing countries.
  • Better records are kept and international trade in listed species is better monitored, which helps determine the impact of trade on the species and the effectiveness of existing management activities, regulations and co-operative efforts.
  • When any live listed species is exported or imported it must be packed and shipped according to the International Air Transport Association Live Animals Regulations to reduce the risk of injury and cruel treatment, which helps to ensure the survival and health of the animals when they are shipped internationally.
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