Regulations Amending the Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations

A review of the potential environmental impacts of the Regulations Amending the Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations (WAPTR) published in the Canada Gazette.

The amendments to Schedule I to the WAPTR are to reflect the decisions made at the 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP18) and to comply with subsection 21(2) of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA). These amendments contribute to international efforts in the conservation of endangered species, and ensure that Canada’s regulatory framework is aligned with that of other Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

CITES is an international treaty, adopted on March 3, 1973 in Washington, D.C., to help ensure the survival of wild animals and plants by setting controls on the import and/or export of species that are, or may be, threatened due to international trade. There are currently 183 Parties to the Convention. CITES includes three Appendices, known as Appendix I, II and III. The Appendices list all species that are protected under CITES. There are currently over 37,000 species of animals and plants listed in the three Appendices. Each Appendix affords varying degrees of protection through different import and/or export controls. The Parties have agreed to a set of biological and trade criteria to help determine whether a species should be included in Appendix I or II. CITES also allows individual Parties, which are among the range States of a certain species, to unilaterally list, in Appendix III, species for which they have implemented domestic controls.

The Parties to the Convention meet every three years at the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to decide on amendments to be made to CITES Appendices I and II, based on the most current information available on the conservation status and trade data for the species in question. CoP18 was held in Geneva, Switzerland from August 17 to 28, 2019, 56 amendment proposals were presented. At CoP18, 46 of the proposed amendments to the CITES Appendices I and II were adopted, affecting 58 taxa in total. Depending on the amendment, taxa can refer to a family, genus, species, subspecies or population. In total, these amendments involve over 400 species or subspecies. The adopted changes include:

Table 1: Removal or reduction in trade controls

Description of change Number of taxa affected
Down-listing from Appendix I to Appendix II (removal of import controls and decrease of export controls) 8 taxa

Table 2: New or increased trade controls

Description of change Number of taxa affected
Addition to Appendix I
(new import and export controls)
8 taxa
Up-listing from Appendix II to Appendix I (new import controls and increased export controls) 8 taxa
Addition to Appendix II
(new export controls)
25 taxa

Table 3: Other amendments

Description of change Number of taxa affected
Modifications to the annotations 9 taxa

These amendments include the addition of 24 taxa to Appendix III (new export controls). Six taxa were deleted from Appendix III (removal of export controls).

According to Canada’s usual practice of implementing its international obligations into Canadian law, Schedule I to WAPTR was amended in order to reflect these updates that have been made to all three CITES Appendices. It should also be noted that the amendments to WAPTR Schedule I also satisfy the statutory requirement set out in subsection 21(2) of WAPPRIITA.

The amendments to Schedule I to the WAPTR lead to a harmonization of international trade controls for endangered species between Canada and other Parties to CITES. This harmonization contributes to the conservation of endangered species, both in Canada and abroad, by discouraging excessive exploitation of the listed species. Conservation of these endangered species will benefit the overall ecosystem by increasing international biodiversity and improving the health of a wide variety of ecosystems.

The Schedule I amendments to WAPTR will have important positive environmental effects. Those amendments also contribute to the Healthy wildlife populations goal of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS), as well as to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 Life Below Water and SDG 15 Life on Land, by regulating the international and interprovincial trade of species listed in the Appendices of the Convention. This contribute to the conservation of species in the wild, the protection of biodiversity and the improvement of ecosystem health.

Implementation of the CoP18 amendments in Canada provide general benefits to the economy, business and trade. Specifically, implementation of CITES requirements through amendments to Schedule I to the WAPTR benefits Canadians engaged in the international trade of endangered species because they align Canadian import and/or export practices and permitting requirements with the standards and practices of international partners, including the United States and the European Union. In addition, the changes involving species that have been down-listed (relaxation of trade controls) or de-listed (removal of all trade controls) because they no longer meet the listing criteria, enable authorities in Canada and other countries to focus their attention on species that benefit from such controls. Such changes also contribute to reducing regulatory impediments to the commercial export of those species and their derivative products.

Follow-up and monitoring occur through permitting, enforcement activities and compliance promotion activities. Additionally, Environment and Climate Change Canada reports annually on the administration of WAPPRIITA. The report covers matters relating to the act, its administration, its associated regulation, compliance and enforcement, and international cooperation.

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