Priority action for high risk fish


Proposals to list commercially exploited fish species, such as bluefin tuna, have been controversial in the international arena –Bluefin tuna © Pixelmania_Dreamstime through both the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). To address this conflict, and to focus attention on priority species, JNCC commissioned the wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC, to look at which species might benefit most from such listings, an idea first endorsed by the Joint Committee in 2007.


The assessment looked at the risk to commercially exploited aquatic fish and invertebrates under three broad headings:

  • vulnerability - ecological risk,
  • value - economic risk,
  • 'violability' - compliance risk - the risk that any management rules might be broken.


Taking this approach TRAFFIC developed and tested an initial method on 1,600 species known to be in trade. This highlighted several practical difficulties which were reviewed at an expert workshop organised and hosted by JNCC.


Participants at the workshop were drawn from CSIRO (Australia), NOAA (USA), the European Commission, the Marine Stewardship Council and CEFAS, along with JNCC and TRAFFIC colleagues. Over two days the report underwent rigorous scrutiny and suggestions were made on how both the report and methods might be improved. In addition, participants were able to share experiences on a range of current risk assessment frameworks being applied to fisheries around the globe.


This work was not intended to create a ‘shopping list’ of candidates for future listing but to identify species at high risk – once identified further scrutiny may determine whether CITES or CMS measures may benefit particular species. But other measures, especially through fisheries management, are likely to be equally or more valid as a means of reducing the risks to species from over-exploitation. Ultimately, Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) only provide a complement to fisheries management, not a substitute for it.


The report and review of the workshop are available to download as a JNCC report.



Contact File


Vin Fleming

Head of Global Programme

Tel: +44 (0)1733 866870


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