Today became a historic day as CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) made the final decision to add the oceanic whitetip shark, porbeagle, three species of hammerheads and both manta rays to the CITES Appendix II. The freshwater sawfish was also transferred from Appendix II to I which completes a global ban on international commercial trade in these critical endangered species. This is a major victory for the global dive community, a dedicated group of individuals who have supported this campaign for some time and worked diligently to make this a reality.
With this decision comes the rule that permits are required to ensure exports are sustainable and legal. This, in turn, protects the highly traded species of shark.
“We are thrilled with this result and the groundswell of government commitment that made it happen,” said Amie Brautigam, Marine Policy Advisor for Wildlife Conservation Society. “These hard-fought decisions to secure CITES regulations on international trade in sharks and rays are based on a solid foundation built over two decades, and surmount the long-standing opposition to listing shark species that are taken at a commercial scale.”
Project AWARE has rallied behind this cause for quite some time and Ania Budziak, Project AWARE Associate Director, is absolutely thrilled. “We’re grateful to proponent governments for recognizing the value of thriving shark and ray populations, and for championing sound proposals,” she commented. “We’re proud that the divers’ voice has contributed to achieving this key milestone in shark and ray conservation.”
The victory was overwhelming as the proposal was fortified by the 27 Member States of the EU, Australia, Brazil, Columbia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, Honduras, Mexico and the United States. These shark and ray proposals received more than 2/3 majority of votes necessary for adoption. The sawfish listing succeeded by consensus.
This global meeting took place in Bangkok, Thailand and now that the initial hurdle has been overcome, the next step is to begin to work to implement the decision and monitor its continuance as a top priority for the worldwide ocean community.