Three shark species proposed for CITES listing

March 11, 2013 – Three shark species were proposed for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) listing today and governments voted YES for their protection. The sharks, however, are at risk of losing the place on the list if the debate on their protection reopens by the end of the Conference on Thursday, March 14th.

“This is a landmark moment showing that the world’s governments support sustainable fisheries and are concerned about the reckless over-exploitation of sharks for commercial use. Today’s decision will go a long way in slowing down the frenzied overfishing of sharks that is pushing them to the brink of collapse to feed the luxury goods market,” said Carlos Drews, head of WWF’s delegation at CITES, in its statement in response to world governments’ decisions to offer better protection for sharks.

The oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) is a pelagic shark and can be found in tropical and warm waters around the world. The oceanic whitetip shark is often accompanied by pilot fish (Naucrates ductor) who feed on the shark's leftovers. WWF lists pelagic sharks as a priority species. Kona Coast, Hawaii, Central Pacific Ocean  © Perrine / WWF

Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) with pilot fish (Naucrates ductor). Kona Coast, Hawaii, Central Pacific Ocean. Image © / Doug Perrine / WWF-Canon

Three shark species proposed for listing on to CITES appendix II, which will regulate trade in shark fin and meat, are:
Oceanic whitetip shark vote: Yes 92 (68.7%), No 42, Abs 8
Scalloped, great and smooth hammerhead shark vote: Yes 91 (70%), No 39, Abs 8
Porbeagle shark vote: Yes 93 (70.4%), No 39, Abs 8

Shark populations across the globe are rapidly decreasing and, according to WWF, the losses account for up to 86% in some locations. In the same time, shark products are highly wanted at the market as they are considered a luxury. For example, shark fin can reach for up to $135/kg in Hong Kong. For this reason, it is essential that the named sharks are listed in the Appendix II of the CITES in order to regulate their international trade and to reduce the extinction risk of these wonderful animals.

“Regulating the trade of marine species like sharks, which are facing unprecedented commercial pressures, is key to saving them and ensuring our oceans contribute to food security by staying healthy and productive,” said Drews.

All of the shark proposals under consideration could come up again before the conference ends on Thursday. The proposed Porbeagle shark already missed out on being listed in CITES Appendix II by one vote in 2010 when the proposal was re-opened on the last day of the conference.

“It has been shown today that governments followed the best available science to make decisions on commercially exploited marine life. We encourage governments to stick by these decisions and not reopen the debate before the end of the week – or put this victory for sharks at risk,” stated Drews.

16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, from March 3-14, 2013.

Source: WWF