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cites 2016 sharks and rays

CITES 2016 Update: Press Release

CITES 2016 shark protection

Press Release

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.

cites sharks and rays

Sharks and rays high on CITES #CoP17 agenda | CITES

CITES regulates international trade in over 35,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, ensuring their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment. The CITES permit system seeks to ensure that international trade in listed species is sustainable, legal and traceable.

Press Release

Geneva 16 September 2016: South Africa, home to one quarter of the world’s 400+ shark species, will this month host the triennial meeting of the World Wildlife Conference where strengthened protection for sharks and rays will again be high on the agenda.

Delegates from over 180 countries attending the meeting – also known as CITES #CoP17 – will receive updates on actions taken following CoP16 in Bangkok, where five shark species, namely the oceanic white tip, porbeagle and three species of hammerhead, and all manta rays were given protection under CITES Appendix II, with trade in these species now being regulated to prevent over-exploitation.

At CITES #CoP17 Parties will be asked to consider three more proposals to bring sharks and rays under CITES trade controls, namely to include:

  • Silky shark Carcharhinus falciformis in Appendix II
  • Thresher sharks Alopias spp. in Appendix II
  • Devil rays Mobula spp. in Appendix II

Read the press release here: Sharks and rays high on CITES #CoP17 agenda | CITES


silky shark diving bahamas

CITES Appendix II listing for Silky Sharks

Cities Appendix II listing

PEW TRUSTS Video Transcript

    • Once considered one of the most abundant sharks in the ocean.
    • They are currently suffering declines of 70-90% wherever they are found.
    • The international shark fin trade is the principal driver behind their overexploitation.
    • There is inadequate control over the number that can be caught, sold or traded every year.
    • An Appendix II listing would limit the trade to sustainable levels.
    • This September, 182 Parties will decide whether or not to give this species the protections it so desperately needs.

Parties should vote to list silky sharks on CITES Appendix II at COP17.

A listing on CITES Appendix II means that the trade of that animal must be controlled in order to avoid endangerment and extinction. If the person/company/country etc cannot show proof of sustainability, then the animal cannot be traded. This, in effect, leads to their protection, as it is nearly impossible to prove sustainable trade of these animals.

For more information about CITES, check out their website here.

CITES Appendix II: Silky Shark

silky shark diving bahamas

silky shark diving bahamas

Pew Commends Broad Global Support for Proposed Shark and Ray Protections

According to PEW’s website, silky sharks, bigeye thresher sharks, common thresher sharks, and pelagic thresher sharks are particularly vulnerable throughout their habitat. Whether it’s from targeted shark fisheries, by-catch, or the extreme levels of unregulated/illegal fishing, these species have suffered dramatic population declines, around 70%.

CITES is recognized globally as one of the most effective and best-enforced international conservation agreements. It provides protection to more than 30,000 species around the world and has been instrumental in preventing the extinction of many plants and animals.  Votes on the proposed listings for thresher and silky sharks and mobula rays will take place at the CITES meeting in Johannesburg in September.

Source: Pew Commends Broad Global Support for Proposed Shark and Ray Protections

shark conservation wins

A Year of Shark-Conservation Wins

Countries around the world worked together on an unprecedented scale to prepare for implementation of new landmark shark protections that went into effect Sept. 14, 2014. Under these new rules, part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, global trade in sharks that are commercially exploited in large numbers is being regulated for the first time.

Source: A Year of Shark-Conservation Wins

Humane Society for protecting sharks and rays

Sharks & Rays – New Protections

The Humane Society International helps to implement new protections for Sharks and Rays

CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora granted historic new protections to 5 species of shark this past September. They include the Oceanic Whitetip Shark, Porbeagle, and three species of Hammerhead (scalloped, smooth, and great). Now, in response to this protection, agents have the daunting task of picking out these fins from the mountains of fins that are unloaded off ships or prepared for flights.

The Humane Society International has helped organized workshops around the world so that experts and agents may get together to formulate a plan for enforcement. So far, they have taken place in Brazil, Senegal, India, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, with Colombia scheduled next month.

Humane Society for protecting sharks and rays

Demian Chapman, an assistant professor at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences has been a leader at these workshops. Demian was recently awarded the 2014 Fellowship in Marine Science from PEW.

“Many shark species, including those listed on CITES, simply can’t keep up with the current rate of exploitation and demand. “Protective measures must be scaled up significantly and enforced in order to avoid further depletion and the possible extirpation of some shark populations in our lifetime.” -Demian Chapman

We’re proud to have worked with Demian during his ongoing research on Cat Island with the Oceanic Whitetip Sharks. Much of his groundbreaking work has offered new insights in the species and helped push for their protection. He is truly an advocate for sharks and conducts his research in the least invasive ways currently possible.

Humane Society International

Tens of millions of sharks are killed annually to meet the demand for shark fin soup—an unsustainable rate that is driving some populations to near-extinction. Many are killed by the cruel practice of finning, in which fishermen cut the fins off a live shark, then dump the animal back into the water to die slowly.

Learn more information here.

oceanic whitetip shark diving

Global Protection for the Oceanic Whitetip

Landmark conservation efforts went into effect for three species of sharks and all species of manta rays that start a long road to recovery for these decimated animal populations.

In March 2013, Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) added porbeagle and oceanic whitetip sharks, three species of hammerhead sharks (scalloped, great, and smooth), as well as all species of manta ray to CITES Appendix II. Appendix II-listed species can be traded, but only if the trade is legal and does not cause detriment to the species in the wild.

Under these new rules, international trade in sharks that are commercially exploited in large numbers, like the oceanic whitetip, will be regulated for the first time.

Implementing the regulations, of course, will be the major obstacle to truly protecting sharks, like the oceanic whitetip. However, this does reflect the crucial shift in thinking that is the first step towards true protection.

oceanic whitetip shark

Oceanic Whitetip Shark

Interested in diving with this rare shark species? Click here to learn more about our oceanic whitetip shark diving expeditions.

protect oceanic whitetip sharks

Protect Oceanic Whitetip Sharks

oceanic whitetip sharks at CITES

Proposed Threatened Listing for the Oceanic Whitetip SharkOceanic Whitetip Sharks proposed for CITES protection

This information was sent out by PEW to help get people involved in this part of shark legislation. You can find the info on PEW’s site here.

On the site, you can enter your information and send the email out to your Senators, Representative, and Secretary Kenneth ‘Ken’ Lee Salazar. The whole process takes less than a minute, and could help raise awareness among the decision makers about the depth of the problem.

Here’s the email that will be forwarded on your behalf:

Dear [Decision Maker],
The global demand for shark fins, meat, liver oil, and other products has driven numerous shark populations to the brink of extinction. Their life history characteristics, such as slow growth, late maturation, and production of few offspring, make sharks particularly vulnerable to overfishing and slow to recover from decline.

In particular, global populations of oceanic whitetip sharks have fallen significantly. They are listed as Critically Endangered in the Northwest and Central Atlantic Ocean, and Vulnerable globally, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. In the Gulf of Mexico, scientists estimate that oceanic whitetip populations have dropped by 99 percent in just over four decades.

Although a few countries and regional fisheries management organizations have started to take steps to address the worldwide decline of oceanic whitetip sharks, these measures do not have the global reach that a listing under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) would have in helping this vulnerable species. The next opportunity to protect additional species under CITES will be in March 2013 in Bangkok.

The United States proposed listin oceanic whitetip sharks at the last CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP), but it narrowly missed being adopted. A U.S. proposal for oceanic whitetip sharks for the March 2013 CoP could help protect an extremely vulnerable shark species and would be noncontroversial in the United States, considering that only $1,057 worth of oceanic whitetip sharks landings have been reported to the National Marine Fisheries Service in the past decade. Although the clock is ticking, the U.S. government has not formally announced its intentions for the upcoming CITES CoP.
I am writing to urge you to ensure that the United States submits a proposal to list oceanic whitetip sharks on Appendix II of CITES and to do so far enough in advance of the Oct. 4 deadline to allow other governments to co-sponsor it.

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

It really only takes under one minute to get it done, and you’ll receive a confirmation from each of the officials letting you know your voice was heard.

Oceanic Whitetip Sharks

Interested in diving with this rare shark species? Click here to learn more about our oceanic whitetip shark diving expeditions.