CITES for seahorses

Seahorses were listed on the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Appendix II in 2002, with implementation as of May 2004. All species of seahorse (Hippocampus spp.) are listed, which means trade can continue but must be managed to ensure it is not detrimental to wild populations, that it is legally sourced, and it must be monitored.

We developed this toolkit to help CITES Authorities implement the Appendix II listing of seahorses and overcome any challenges to ensuring that wild seahorses populations are sustainable.

Go to the toolkit

Seahorses in the Ria Formosa, Portugal / Cavalos-marinhos na Ria Formosa

Portugal is home to many wonderful marine creatures, in particular the long-snouted seahorse and the short-snouted seahorse.  These seahorses were found in record-breaking numbers in the Ria Formosa Natural Park in early 2000s.  However, since then their numbers have been declining sharply.

Learn more about these quirky, magical creatures and what you can do to help them!

Go to the toolkit in English | Portuguese

Protect the Knysna seahorse – a threatened national treasure

The Knysna seahorse is truly a national treasure. It is South Africa’s country’s only endemic seahorse and is one of only two Endangered seahorse species in the world. Found in only three Southern Cape Estuaries (the Knysna, Swartvlei and Keurbooms Estuaries) the Knysna Seahorse is an iconic species for Knysna, South Africa and the world.

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保护海马就是保护海洋 Saving seahorses means saving the ocean

“Saving seahorses means saving the ocean” aims to mobilize Chinese organizations and institutions to save their rare, treasured and protected seahorses. Chinese seahorses and its ocean are heavily threatened by non-selective and destructive fishing gears that are now widely used in the nation. These gears like bottom trawlers not only cause overfishing but also desertify the ‘underwater forests’ such as coral reefs and seagrass beds.

Go to the toolkit 

Seahorses: magical creatures in our backyard

Seahorses: Magical Creatures in Our Backyard” aims to build awareness about seahorses and other syngnathids in Biscayne National Park and inspire residents of Miami-Dade County (FL, USA) to take action to protect the park and their oceans. Charismatic symbols of the seagrasses, mangroves, reefs and estuaries they call home, seahorses are flagship species for a wide range of marine conservation issues in Biscayne National Park (from water quality to plastics and other marine debris to habitat damage from boats, jet skis and other watercraft).

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Assessing ecological changes in and around marine reserves using community perceptions and biological surveys.

  • Villager’s support for a reserve does not necessarily depend on strong evidence from fish surveys.  Villager’s perceptions are affected by a wide range of information sources and managers seeking  to enhance local support should tap these information sources. 
  • It is important for managers to create inexpensive and effective monitoring methods that use a  diverse range of data sources because each monitoring system has different strengths and  weaknesses. 

Engaging communities towards sustained indicator development, monitoring and evaluation of MPAs in the central Philippines.


  • First impressions matter: When engaging local communities in the monitoring and evaluation  (M&E) of no(take marine protected areas (MPAs), marine resource managers must first build trust  and develop relationships.
  • Communities with a history of MPA development and/or an active village council (or similar  grassroots organization) tend to be more easily engaged in M&E activities than those without. 
  • Women can play an important role in M&E initiatives, and gender must be factored into the  program design to ensure equal opportunities to participate.

A geography of rights: Accessing places, and securing rights and claims

  • Social factors such as ownership may create unequal access to fishing. 
  • Social and ecological use of areas can influence MPA placement. 
  • Villagers feel they have the right to ecological knowledge, and the right to participate in MPA rule  making. 
  • Managers should be aware of ownership structures and the rights to which villagers feel entitled,  so as to understand villager participation in MPA management.