Wild animal and plant trade and protection regulations: 2015 annual report: chapter 1

1.1 Purpose of the annual report

This report fulfills the Minister of the Environment’s obligation, under section 28 of WAPPRIITA to report annually on the administration of the Act. This report covers the administration of the Act for the year 2015.

This section provides background information on WAPPRIITA and outlines the responsibilities of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) under the Act. Subsequent sections discuss the following:

  • wild animals and plants in trade
  • assessment of the risk to species from trade
  • compliance promotion and enforcement
  • international cooperation


WAPPRIITA is the legislative vehicle through which Canada meets its international obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

CITES sets controls on the trade in and international movement of animal and plant species that have been, or may become, threatened with over-exploitation as a result of trade pressures. Such species are identified by the Parties to the Convention and are listed in one of three appendices to the Convention according to the degree of protection they need.

  • Appendix I is the list of species that are threatened with extinction. Trade in these species is strictly regulated to ensure their survival, and trade for commercial purposes is prohibited.
  • Appendix II lists species that are not currently threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is strictly regulated to avoid over-exploitation. Also listed in Appendix II are “look-alike” species that are regulated to provide additional protection for Appendix II species. Many species with healthy populations within Canada, such as the American Black Bear and the Grey Wolf, are listed in Appendix II for this purpose.
  • In Appendix III, individual Parties to the Convention may list species that are found within their borders and are subject to regulation, and where the cooperation of other Parties is needed in order to manage international trade in those species. Canada has listed the Walrus in this appendix.

In 1973, the text of CITES was agreed upon by 80 signatory countries, including Canada. The Convention came into force in 1975 and to date has been adopted by over 180 Parties.

WAPPRIITA, the legislation by which Canada regulates the trade in wild species in conformity with CITES, received Royal Assent on December 17, 1992. The Act and associated regulations--the WAPTR--came into force on May 14, 1996. The purpose of WAPPRIITA is to protect certain species of animals and plants, particularly by implementing CITES, as well as regulating international and interprovincial trade in animals and plants. WAPPRIITA benefits Canadian and foreign species of animals and plants that may be at risk of over-exploitation because of unsustainable or illegal trade. It also protects Canadian ecosystems that may be at risk from the introduction of harmful species. The legislation accomplishes these objectives by regulating the international trade in wild animals and plants, as well as their parts and derivatives, and by making it an offence to transport wildlife between provinces or territories or between Canada and other countries in certain situations, such as when they have been taken illegally.

1.3 Responsibilities under WAPPRIITA

ECCC is responsible for administering WAPPRIITA. ECCC and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are the designated Management Authority and Scientific Authority for the purpose of CITES.

As the Management Authority, ECCC is responsible for verifying and validating requests for international trade of specimens of animals and plants that are regulated under CITES originating from or destined for Canada. This responsibility includes activities such as issuing CITES permits and certificates. ECCC, as the Scientific Authority, is responsible for determining whether or not international trade of a species is detrimental to the survival of the species. This responsibility includes monitoring the international trade of wildlife in Canada to ensure that current levels of trade are sustainable.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for the verification and validation of export requests for specimens of CITES-listed aquatic species. Natural Resources Canada serves as an advisor on CITES issues related to timber and tree species. Further information on the roles and responsibilities of federal departments in the implementation and administration of CITES can be found online.

Enforcement of WAPPRIITA is overseen by ECCC and is carried out in cooperation with other federal agencies, such as the Canada Border Services Agency, and with provincial and territorial wildlife agencies. Customs officials play an important role at ports of entry, manually verifying and validating permits, and referring shipments to ECCC personnel as required for inspection.

ECCC maintains enforcement agreements and memoranda of understanding with Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Under the agreements and memoranda of understanding, these four provinces and two territories are responsible for enforcing WAPPRIITA with respect to interprovincial wildlife trade, while the Department oversees the enforcement of WAPPRIITA for international trade.

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