CITES Launches Tougher Regulations to Protect Sharks and Manta Rays
On September 14th, 2014 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) adopted new controls to regulate international trade in five shark species and all manta ray species. CITES requested that all trade in these species, their meat, gills and fins be accompanied by permits and certificates confirming that they have been harvested sustainably and legally. All these species are now included in CITES Appendix II.
Although other species of sharks have been listed in the CITES Appendices, this is the first time that shark species of great commercial value that are traded in high volumes are included in these lists, requiring sustainability and legality verification for the trade operations. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) the global reported annual shark catches from 2000 to 2009 ranged between 750,000 and 900,000 tonnes.
The new regulation offers opportunities for CITES Parties and fishery communities to ensure that harvesting heavily traded marine species is better managed. As CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon said, “regulating international trade in these shark and manta ray species is critical to their survival and is a very tangible way of helping to protect the biodiversity of our oceans.”
This decision is the result of a process of international cooperation that started at the 2013 Conference of the Parties. For the past 18 months, CITES has led a global collective effort to implement the new listings, involving the FAO, other regional intergovernmental bodies, and many non-governmental organizations. As highlighted by Secretary-General Scanlon, “this global collaborative effort is the most comprehensive we have seen in the 40 year history of the Convention to prepare for the implementation of a new CITES listing.”
The practical implementation of these listings will involve issues such as determining sustainable export levels, verifying legality, and identifying the products that are traded. The Secretariats of CITES and FAO benefited from sources of funding provided by the European Union (EU), and technical and financial support from other partners.
For more information on the new CITES regulations click here