Sharks, from the largest fish in the sea—the whale shark—to flattened, strangely shaped rays such as guitarfish, are still being killed at an unsustainable rate, but several could receive much needed protections this month. Beginning Oct. 22, 124 governments will gather in Manila, the Philippines, at the 12th session of the Conference of the Parties (CoP12) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) to decide if six species of sharks will receive listings that will give them a better chance to recover depleted populations.
The host country, along with Israel and Sri Lanka, have proposed a CMS Appendix I listing for whale sharks, which would prohibit fishing for this species in all places where it migrates. Monaco proposed the same level of protection for angel sharks, a bottom-dwelling species that has been driven almost to extinction throughout its European range.
Four additional shark species have been proposed for listing on CMS Appendix II, which would make them conservation priorities for all CMS parties and encourage international action to properly manage and protect these species throughout their migratory ranges:
- the common guitarfish—Senegal, Mauritania, Togo, and Israel.
- white-spotted wedgefish—the Philippines.
- dusky sharks—Honduras.
- blue sharks—Samoa and Sri Lanka.
By adopting the six additional Appendix I and II shark listings this year, CMS members would carry on momentum from 2014, when they committed to work together to better protect 21 vulnerable species of sharks and rays, including silky, thresher, and hammerhead sharks, and helped achieve stronger management of some of the world’s most vulnerable sharks.