The 15th meeting of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as CITES, has begun, and representatives of 175 countries are meeting in Doha, Qatar. CITES rules have the power to make international trade of plant and animal species illegal, which has enormous significance for their conservation. 8 shark species have been proposed for CITES protection under appendix II- oceanic whitetip sharks, porbeagle sharks, spiny dogfish (commonly used for fish and chips in the UK), dusky sharks, three species of hammerheads (great, smooth, and scalloped), and my study animal the sandbar shark.
The Save Our Seas Foundation has a detailed description of each shark species, and explains why these shark species should be protected under CITES Appendix II:
All eight of these shark species are:
- Subject to persistent demand that drives targeted fisheries and retention of bycatch
- Traded internationally in substantial quantities
- Included in the lowest productivity category (intrinsic rate of population increase <0.14) under criteria developed by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) for CITES listing of commercially exploited aquatic species
- Inadequately managed by most countries, and
- Not subject to fishing limits under any regional fisheries management organization (RFMO).
Listing these shark species under CITES Appendix II is:
- Essential for ensuring that international trade is held to sustainable levels
- Complementary to fisheries management efforts
- Key to improving data on the nature and extent of fisheries and trade
The shark proposals include solid justification that the species meet the CITES criteria for listing.
42 proposals are being debated at CITES in between now and March 25th. Many of them deal with marine species, including bluefin tuna.
If you want to learn more about CITES, self-described shark warrior Lesley Rochat is attending CITES on behalf of the Shark Research Institute and the AfriOceans Conservation Alliance. She is blogging her experiences, and you can follow them here.
I’ve been told to expect a vote on the shark proposals Wednesday or Thursday, and I’ll let you know if they pass.