Sharks at CITES
Grant Recipient: Oceans 5
Project Support: CITES7
The “CITES7” coalition is made up of Humane Society International, Project AWARE Foundation, Shark Advocates International, Shark Trust, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the German Elasmobranch Association, with professional support from Communications Inc. and Martin Clark consultancy. WildAid is also supported through this grant. The coalition is dedicated to stopping unsustainable trade in globally threatened shark and ray species through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
CITES7 brings together shark experts from key regions, conservation organizations with global reach, and experienced campaign consultants in a focused coalition armed with the expertise, contacts, knowledge, commitment, and camaraderie needed to successfully advocate for listing of additional shark and ray species on the CITES Appendices at the next Conference of the Parties (CoP) in March 2013 in Thailand. In the spring of 2012, the coalition set out to:
– Ensure CITES Appendix II listings for porbeagle and oceanic whitetip sharks, and three species of hammerhead sharks;
– Promote up-listing of freshwater sawfish from Appendix II to Appendix I; and
– Explore opportunities for securing similar listings for manta and/or devil rays.
Sharks and rays are at great risk today, primarily due to over-exploitation through targeted and incidental take in fisheries, which is often unregulated and driven by international trade. Shark fins are among the world’s most valuable fishery products. Shark and ray meat is prized in Europe and Asia. The gill rakers of manta rays are increasingly sought for Chinese medicine. Through various requirements for export and import, CITES Appendix II can help to ensure that international trade is held to sustainable levels and thereby complement fisheries management.
To date, coalition members have assisted with CITES listing proposal development, maintained regular contact with government officials from key countries around the world, and promoted engagement from other decision-makers and influential people. Coalition members have also presented the benefits of CITES listing for sharks and rays at a series of international fora.
In October, countries submitted their CITES listing proposals, revealing that the coalition is on track: various countries have proposed Appendix II listing for porbeagles, hammerheads, oceanic whitetip sharks, and manta rays. Sawfish have also been proposed for up-listing.
CITES7 is now focused on maximizing support for the shark and ray proposals from the 176 CITES Parties. The coalition is developing a range of supporting materials and is seeking to mobilize broader constituencies. The coalition has a strategic focus on Africa, and is orchestrating workshops with relevant authorities for both East and West coasts of the continent. CITES7 will have a strong presence at the CoP in March.