Sharks Denied CITES Protections
Parties overturn Committee decision to list porbeagle sharks under CITES Appendices and confirm rejection of similar action for hammerhead, oceanic whitetip, and spiny dogfish sharks
Doha, Qatar – 25 March, 2010: Today, in their final Plenary session, Parties to the Convention for the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted narrowly to reverse a previous Committee decision to monitor and regulate trade in the porbeagle shark and confirmed Committee rejection of similar proposals for the hammerhead, spiny dogfish, and oceanic whitetip shark.
"Today’s backsliding on porbeagle protection by the CITES Parties is deeply regrettable as are their previous decisions to reject trade safeguards for similarly threatened hammerheads, spiny dogfish and oceanic whitetip sharks,” said Heike Zidowitz, President of Europe’s leading association of shark scientists and the head of the Shark Alliance delegation to the CITES Conference. “These failures leave some of the oceans’ most vulnerable and heavily traded species at great risk from unregulated, international trade.”
The proposals to list porbeagle and spiny dogfish under CITES Appendix II were developed by the European Union while the United States proposed similar action for hammerheads and oceanic whitetip sharks. The Pacific island nation of Palau co-sponsored all four proposals. A two-thirds majority of votes is required for the adoption of such CITES proposals.
“Despite the setbacks, the CITES Conference debates have served to highlight the urgent plight of sharks and increase recognition of the role that CITES can play in their conservation,” added Zidowitz. “The member groups of the Shark Alliance will continue to promote CITES action along with science-based fishing limits as key elements of comprehensive shark conservation programs.”
The high demand for shark fins is a major threat to hammerhead and oceanic whitetip sharks while porbeagles and spiny dogfish are sought primarily to satisfy European demand for their meat.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), all the shark species proposed for CITES listing are classified as Globally Threatened under the IUCN Red List and meet the criteria for listing under CITES Appendix II.
Appendix II listings result in requirements for export permits and determinations that trade in a species is legal and not detrimental to the species’ survival.
Notes to editor
The Shark Alliance is a coalition of 85 conservation, scientific and recreational organisations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving shark conservation policies.
The Shark Alliance was initiated and is coordinated by the Pew Environment Group, the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-government organisation that is working to end overfishing in the world's oceans.
For the International Union of Conservation’s definitions of the terms Endangered and Vulnerable, http://www.iucnredlist.org/