Monday, March 11, 2013

Shark Proposals Adopted at CITES Committee Meeting

In a highly anticipated Committee vote today, proposals to list under CITES* seven species of sharks and rays were supported by more than the two-thirds majority of voting countries needed for adoption. Conservationists are pleased yet mindful that decisions must still be confirmed in the final plenary session later this week.

“We are delighted by the outcome of today’s votes for listing several species of sharks and rays under CITES, and hopeful that these historic decisions will be upheld in plenary later this week,” as said Sonja Fordham of Shark Advocates International. “These highly traded, threatened shark and ray species urgently need protection from the unsustainable trade that jeopardizes populations, ecosystems, livelihoods, and ecotourism.”

Porbeagle, oceanic whitetip shark, three species of hammerheads and 2 species of Manta rays have been proposed by a variety of countries for listing under CITES Appendix II, which would prompt permits to ensure exports are sustainable and legal. In addition, freshwater sawfish have been proposed to go from Appendix II to Appendix I listing.

“We are thrilled that the tide is now turning for shark conservation—with governments listening to the science and acting in the interest of species conservation and sustainability,” said Elizabeth Wilson, manager of Pew’s global shark campaign. “With these new protections, oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, and hammerhead sharks will have the chance to recover and once again fulfil their role as top predators in the marine ecosystem. CITES has done its job.”

“We are encouraged that the required majority of CITES Parties voting this morning supported the shark listing proposals,” said Ali Hood from Shark Trust. “Between now and plenary, we will be urging governments to remain vigilant and ensure final adoption of these vital international trade controls.”

“This is a major win for some of the world’s most threatened shark species, with action now required to control the international trade in their fins and other parts,” said Susan Lieberman, director of international policy at The Pew Charitable Trusts. “This victory indicates that the global community has agreed to collaborate across ocean basins and borders to address the plight of some of the most highly vulnerable sharks and ray species.”

CITES Parties will reconvene CITES Parties will reconvene in plenary to finalize decisions, likely this Thursday.

Image courtesy of Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch