A Chance to Expand Global Protections for Sharks and Rays

2016 meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

A Chance to Expand Global Protections for Sharks and Rays

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, commonly known as CITES, is recognized globally as one of the most effective and best-enforced international conservation agreements. It provides protections to more than 30,000 species and has been instrumental in preventing the extinction of many animals and plants.

Eight species of sharks, two species of manta rays, and all species of sawfish are protected by CITES. That’s a small fraction of the world’s 1,041 shark, ray, and chimaera species, about a quarter of which are threatened with extinction.

In late 2015, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Fiji submitted proposals to list three species of thresher sharks, silky sharks, and nine species of mobula ray on what is known as CITES Appendix II. These species have all experienced population declines of greater than 70 percent across their range. In some areas, the declines are up to 99 percent as a result of inadequate management measures, poor enforcement of measures that do exist, and a lack of controls on the level or sustainability of international trade in fins and gill plates of these species.

In response to the growing threat, more than 50 countries agreed to co-sponsor one or more of the Appendix II listing proposals, an unprecedented call to action. Co-sponsors include a range of countries in Africa, the host region for the upcoming CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP17); the European Union and its 28 member nations; and many other countries around the world.

An Appendix II listing for these species would ensure that fins and gill plates that are traded internationally come from sustainably managed fisheries that do not harm the status of these wild populations. In addition, catch in these fisheries would be accurately recorded. Trade controls under CITES would complement and reinforce fisheries management or other conservation measures adopted for these species and help preserve their populations for generations to come.

Votes on the proposed listings will take place at CoP17, which starts Sept. 24 in Johannesburg.

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Press Releases & Statements

Pew Commends Broad Global Support for Proposed Shark and Ray Protections

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Press Releases & Statements
CITES map
CITES map
Data Visualization

Support for CITES Proposals Goes Global

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Data Visualization

Countries all over the world have become co-sponsors of one or more of the measures to protect silky and thresher sharks and mobula rays that will be considered at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference of the Parties in September 2016.

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GettyImages551984351
Issue Brief

Protecting Sharks, Enforcing CITES

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Issue Brief

Global shark conservation efforts took a major step forward in 2013, when five shark species and two species of manta ray were added to Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The listings brought international protections for regularly traded shark and ray species for the first time. To prepare for the September 2014 implementation deadline, CITES Parties across the globe coordinated on an unprecedented scale to host workshops, enact domestic legislation, and create enforcement tools to ensure that trade in these vulnerable species is legal, sustainable, and traceable.

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Video

Implementing New Shark Protections Worldwide

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Countries around the world have been working together on an unprecedented scale to prepare for new landmark shark protections that go into effect Sunday, Sept. 14. Learn more about the efforts that countries worldwide have undertaken to prepare for the deadline.

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Disappearing Silky and Thresher Sharks

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Disappearing Silky and Thresher Sharks

Silky, bigeye thresher, common thresher, and pelagic thresher sharks are in particular danger.

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Additional Resources

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Thresher shark
Video

Whip-tailed Thresher Sharks Help Island Recover

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After Typhoon Haiyan devastated Malapascua in the Philippines, thresher shark tourism helped this island rebuild. Now, islanders are hoping to return the favor by advocating for trade protections for vulnerable thresher sharks. A CITES Appendix II listing would ensure these sharks are traded responsibly and not fished to extinction. It would also help ensure that these sharks don’t disappear—and that islands that depend on threshers, like Malapascua, continue to thrive.

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Thresher shark
Video

How to Save Vulnerable Thresher Sharks

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See thresher sharks up close underwater, and get the facts about these animals. Up to 3.9 million thresher sharks are killed each year in commercial fisheries, far above sustainable levels. This September, Governments around the globe have the opportunity help give these species the protections they need through an Appendix II listing on CITES.

Silky shark
Silky shark
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Help Silky Sharks Devastated by Shark Fin Trade

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Once abundant, silky shark populations have fallen by more than 70 percent throughout the world’s oceans. Let’s keep more silky sharks in the sea instead of shark fin soup bowls through a CITES Appendix II listing to help dwindling populations recover.

Mobula Ray
Mobula Ray
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Mobula Rays Need Protection Now

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Stunning underwater footage shows large groups of mobula rays on the move. However, due to escalating demand for gill plates, mobula ray populations have declined up to 99 percent around the world. Let’s keep these rays swimming with a CITES Appendix II listing to help prevent their global extinction.

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