Johannesburg, October 3, 2016 – In a highly anticipated Committee session today, proposals to list devil rays, thresher sharks, and the silky shark under CITES* were supported by more than the two-thirds of voting Parties required for adoption. Conservationists are delighted yet mindful that Committee decisions must still be confirmed in the final CITES plenary session later this week.
“Assuming these decisions stand, this is a big win for all these species of sharks and rays as governments around the world will now have to act to reduce the overfishing that threatens them,” said Andy Cornish of the WWF.
Nine devil rays, the three thresher sharks, and the silky shark were proposed by a variety of countries for listing under CITES Appendix II, which would result in international trade restrictions to ensure exports are sustainable and legal.
“We are elated by the resounding support for safeguarding the devil rays, some of the oceans’ most vulnerable animals,” said Sonja Fordham of Shark Advocates International.
Ali Hood of the Shark Trust noted, “While we’re hopeful that this important decision for silky sharks will stand, we stress that complementary fishing limits are key to the effective conservation.”
“We are grateful that governments recognize the value of healthy thresher shark populations for both fisheries and tourism,” said Ania Budziak of Project AWARE.
CITES Parties will reconvene in Plenary to begin finalizing decisions on Tuesday.
“We urge governments to endorse the Committee decisions and put in place these vital international trade controls, as a matter of priority,” added Amie Brautigam of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Earlier in the meeting, Parties agreed steps aimed at improving the traceability of shark and ray products, which is fundamental to CITES implementation. Countries’ interventions reflected a growing recognition of the vital role CITES can play in shark and ray conservation by enhancing data, improving management, and ensuring sustainable international trade.
Project AWARE, Shark Advocates International, Shark Trust, TRAFFIC, Wildlife Conservation Society, and WWF are working in partnership to promote the ray and shark listing proposals, with support from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.
*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.