Experts advise trade restrictions for threatened sharks

CITES Secretariat endorses EU proposals to list dogfish and porbeagle

Experts advise trade restrictions for threatened sharks
About one-third of European shark and ray populations assessed are currently considered threatened © Greenpeace

Brussels: The Shark Alliance welcomes the recommendation by the Secretariat for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) that member countries adopt proposals from the European Union to restrict international trade in spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks.  Proponents aim to limit international trade in these species’ meat and fins to sustainable levels through listing on CITES Appendix II.  CITES Parties meet in early June in The Hague to vote on these and other proposals.  

“Endorsement of the shark proposals by the CITES Secretariat is in line with previous expert analyses and bolsters an already strong case for safeguarding these vulnerable species through CITES action,” said Sonja Fordham, Policy Director for the Shark Alliance. “CITES staff are clearly qualified to determine if species meet the CITES listing criteria.  With this announcement, the advice for listing the sharks is now overwhelming and, we hope, difficult to ignore.”

Spiny dogfish, usually large, pregnant females, are sought primarily for their meat which is exported from all corners of the globe to satisfy European demand.  Porbeagle meat is particularly prized in Europe while fins are exported to Asia for shark fin soup.  

Serious overfishing has landed spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  The Northeast and Northwest Atlantic populations are considered Critically Endangered and Endangered, respectively.  Still, allowable catch levels continue to be set well above scientific advice. 

“With these landmark proposals, the European Union is poised to lead the world toward sustainable, international trade in commercially important sharks,” added Fordham. “We urge all CITES Parties to vote in favor of these responsible actions and give these often disregarded species the global attention they so urgently need.”