Report

CITES 101: Pew Experts Discuss Protection for Sharks and Manta Rays

It's big business, a big vote, and a big moment for sharks.

The Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, takes place in Bangkok, Thailand - March 3 to 14.

At this critical meeting, governments will debate adding five species of sharks and two species of manta rays to the treaty. A positive result will limit international trade of shark fin and meat and manta gill rakers and help reduce the threat of over fishing facing these species.

For nearly 40 years, CITES has shielded thousands of plants and animals from overexploitation through international trade.  This treaty is considered one of the best-enforced international conservation agreements.

Pew experts highlight key issues under discussion and potential outcomes for this important meeting.

For more CITES coverage, visit www.pewenvironment.org/cites.

Listen to all the episodes in the series on Pew's environmental intitiatives site.

Episode 1: Sharks' Big Hope

In the first installment, Lieberman explains which of the seven species advocates are seeking to protect at this year's conference and how the CITES treaty works to protect more than 30,000 endangered species.
Download Transcript (PDF).

Episode 2: The Case for Conservation

In the this interview, shark expert Elizabeth Wilson explains the role sharks play as top predators in the food web and what changes when their numbers dwindle. Sharks are more like marine mammals, Wilson says, and can be overfished quickly.
Download Transcript (PDF).

Episode 3: Back to Bangkok

In the third segment, Pew expert Susan Lieberman talks about how attitudes and politics have changed since 2004, the last time Thailand hosted the conference. "I've been to every CITES meeting since 1989, and we're seeing a lot more attention on fish, marine species, on sharks, than ever before," Lieberman says. "It's going to be hard, but I think the politics have changed." 
Download Transcript (PDF).


Media Contact

Rachel Brittin

Officer, Communications

202.540.6312