Illegal wildlife trade has been identified as a major source of global commerce of seahorses. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora listed the genus Hippocampus in Appendix II in 2004, when several countries that commercialized these species also banned transactions through domestic legislation, Peru being one of them. Nevertheless, since the 2004 ban was decreed in Peru, transactions have continued, including international commerce, as well confiscations of illegal seahorse Hippocampus ingens (Girard 1858) products. The authors reviewed three official government sources for information on seahorse trade in Peru, identifying differences in the reporting of the two agencies that monitor exports and imports of seahorses, likely due to non-standardized use of product categorization codes (Partidas Arancelarias). Confiscations reported by one of the agencies confirmed that illegal trade continued despite the ban and in similar amounts of what was exported by Peru before the ban (1053 kg confiscated in 2019 vs. 1460 kg exported in 2004, an estimated 437,888 and 607,067 seahorses, respectively). This review highlights gaps in seahorse conservation in Peru, which include research gaps (e.g., taxonomy, biology and use of habitats) as well as the identification of fisheries impact and improvements in by-catch reporting. This review also highlights areas for possible improvement in international trade (e.g., standardized descriptions of Partidas) that ultimately would allow the country to follow the Convention for Illegal Trade of Endangered Species regulations for seahorses.
- illegal trade
- small-scale fisheries
- unreported and unregulated fisheries