CITES Meeting 2013: Greater International Protection proposed for 10 Shark and Ray Species
International Wildlife Treaty tables Proposals for the next Conference of the Parties (CoP16) in Bangkok, March 2013.
Five Shark Species and five Ray Species may get Greater International Protection.
Helmut Nickel, Shark Year Magazine,
08. October 2012
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) has 176 parties and regulates international trade in about 30.000 endangered species of wild fauna and flora.
These species are listed in three different Appendices ( Appendix I, II and III ), according to the degree of protection they need.
The current Status
To date, the following Elasmobrach fishes are currently listed in the Appendices of the Washington Convention :
Appendix I :
( lists species which are threatened with extinction. The trade is permitted only in exceptional circumstances ).
Sawfishes ( Pristidae spp. ), except one species which is included in Appendix II.
Appendix II :
( lists species which are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but the trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival ).
Basking shark ( Cetorhinus maximus ).
Whale shark ( Rhincodon typus ).
Great white shark ( Carcharodon carcharias ).
Largetooth Sawfish ( Pristis microdon ).
Appendix III :
( lists species which are protected in at least one country. Other CITES Parties have been asked for assistance in controlling the trade ).
An outlook on the forthcoming CITES Meeting (CoP16)
Every three years, CITES hosts a meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to review its implementation and, if necessary, to amend the list of species in Appendices I and II.
The next 16th Conference of Parties ( CoP16 ) will take place in March 2013 in Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. This event will also mark the 40th anniversary of CITES.
By 4th October 2012, which was the deadline for submitting any proposed amendment to Appendix I or II for consideration at CoP16, the CITES Secretariat has received 67 proposals from over 50 member countries.
Six of these proposals recommend the inclusion of the following ten Elasmobranch species in Appendix II of the Convention:
- Scalloped hammerhead shark ( Sphyrna lewini )
Great hammerhead shark ( Sphyrna mokarran )
Smooth hammerhead shark ( Sphyrna zygaena )
- Porbeagle shark ( Lamna nasus )
- Oceanic whitetip shark ( Carcharhinus longimanus )
- Reef Manta Ray ( Manta alfredi )
Giant Oceanic Manta Ray ( Manta birostris )
- Ceja river stingray ( Paratrygon aiereba )
- Ocellate river stingray ( Potamotrygon motoro )
Rosette river stingray ( Potamotrygon schroederi )
During the two previous CITES Conferences of the Parties, held in The Hague 2007 and Doha 2010, a proposal to list the porbeagle shark in Appendix II failed to receive the required two-third majority of the votes cast.
The same fate suffered the oceanic whitetip shark and hammerhead shark at the 15th CoP in Doha three years ago. Now all these shark species will get another chance to gain trade protection under CITES at the 16th CoP in Bangkok next March.
The EU is also co-sponsoring the proposal prepared by Brazil to include the three big species of hammerhead sharks into CITES Appendix II. Other current proponents of the hammerhead shark-proposal are Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico and Costa Rica, which is already protecting the scalloped hammerhead ( Sphyrna lewini ) under CITES Appendix III.
Spiny Dogfish – Revived from the Dead ?
For over a decade, conservation groups and some doom-and-gloom scientists have prophesied the downfall of the spiny dogfish populations. This view was partly responsible for the European submission of two dogfish-proposals ( inclusion in CITES Appendix II ) at the previous 15th and 14th Conferences of the Parties. But the proposals were rejected at both meetings.
And now, the spiny dogfish ( also known as spurdog, Squalus acanthias ) is not covered by one of the new 67 proposals to amend Appendices I and II that will be discussed at the CoP16 in Bangkok.
Since the last CITES Meeting ( CoP15 in Doha, March 2010 ), the spiny dogfish-situation appears to have been improved significantly :
- In June 2010, the NOAA announced the recovery of the spiny dogfish stock in the NW Atlantic. More Info
- In September 2011, the BC Spiny Dogfish Fishery was certified as sustainable. More Info
- In June 2012, the dogfish stock in EU waters was assessed as not overfished. More Info
- In August 2012, the first U.S. Atlantic Spiny Dogfish Fishery has obtained the MSC Certification. More Info
You might get the impression that there is no urgent need anymore for CITES to regulate the international trade with dogfish-products. So the lack of a newly submitted dogfish-proposal is not surprising. Although Shark Advocates International, a non-profit initiative dedicated to shark conservation, had previously recommended that the United States propose the spiny dogfish for inclusion in Appendix II at CoP16.
Measures to improve transparency and conflict of interest policy
The European Union does not only care about the protection of marine species.
For the forthcoming Meeting in Bangkok, the EU is also proposing measures to improve transparency in the functioning of the CITES Convention and to introduce a “conflict of interest” policy for the CITES scientific committees. Those Committees deliver scientific advices which are the backbone of the CITES Convention. Therefore, it is essential that there are no doubts pertaining to the independence and integrity of their Members.
A similar case happened just a few months ago, when conservationists were questioning the independence and integrity of Dr. Choo-Hoo Giam. He represents Asia as an alternate member of the CITES Animals Committee and was heavily criticized for a seminar ( titled “Sharks Fin Soup Helps the Poor: Is the Fin Industry all that Bad?” ) that he had held in February 2012.
Sharks, Skates and Rays at the last nine Conferences of the Parties ( CoP8 to Cop16 ).
All decisions made on proposals to list Elasmobrach species under Appendices I and II.
Red : Proposals were either withdrawn or rejected.
Green : Proposals were accepted.
Yellow : Proposals will be voted on at CoP16, March 2013.