CITES conference takes decisive action to halt decline of sharks and other wildlife

On 14th March 2013 the triennial World’s Wildlife Conference, which took place in Bangkok, adopted robust measures to protect 5 species of shark along with manta rays and many other vulnerable plant and animal species.

The 5 shark species to be included in Appendix II are the oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus), scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrma lewini), great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran), smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zigaena) and the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus). These are all harvested in huge numbers for their valuable fins and, in some cases, meat. but in future will have to be traded with CITES permits and evidence will have to be provided that they are harvested sustainably and legally. These listings mark a milestone in the involvement of CITES in marine species. The porbeagle shark was included after two unsuccessful attempts at previous CITES Conference meetings. Ireland, on behalf of the European Union Member States and Croatia, presented the proposal to protect the porbeagle shark and announced an implementation package of EUR 1.2 million to assist developing countries in the implementation of the listing of this and other marine species. The proponents welcomed the impressive alliance of countries co-sponsoring the proposal and argued that requiring CITES export permits will ensure that international markets are supplied by fish from sustainably managed fisheries that keep accurate records. This species has experienced severe population declines, notably in the northern Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean, owing to unsustainable fishing for its high-value meat and fins.

The member States also adopted historic provisions to refine the standards for making scientific findings; determine the State responsible for issuing documentation for marine species harvested in international waters; assess the impact of CITES decisions on the livelihoods of rural communities; and address potential conflict of interest that could significantly impair the impartiality, objectivity or independence of members of the CITES committees.

For more information see the CITES website

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