UN Advisory Panel Recommendations on Shark Proposals at CITES CoP16

Helmut Nickel, Shark Year Magazine,
18. January 2013

Last year, we already reported about the submitted six proposals to list ten species of elasmobranch fish ( five shark- and five ray-species ) in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). See Here

The final decisions on these proposals will be made at the 16th CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP16) that will be held in Bangkok, March 2013.

In early December 2012, the fourth FAO Expert Advisory Panel for the assesment of proposals to amend CITES Appendices met in Rome, Italy.

During its meeting, the FAO Panel assessed each proposal from a scientific perspective in accordance with the CITES biological listing criteria. Its objectives were also to comment on technical aspects of the proposal in relation to biology, ecology, trade and management issues, as well as, to the extent possible, the likely effectiveness for conservation.

The Outcome of the 4th FAO Expert Advisory Panel :

The FAO Expert Advisory Panel has given its blessing to three of the six proposals.

The Panel supports the inclusion of the Oceanic whitetip shark (CoP16 Proposal 42) in Appendix II of the CITES Convention.

Regarding the Porbeagle shark proposal (CoP16 Proposal 44), the majority of Panel members considered that the species as a whole meets the decline criteria for Appendix II.

The FAO Advisory Panel also concluded that based on the available evidence the Scalloped hammerhead shark (CoP16 Proposal 43) meets the biological criteria for listing on CITES Appendix II.

Additionally, the Great hammerhead and the Smooth hammerhead shark fulfil the criteria for a CITES listing as so-called look-alike species in accordance with Article II 2(b). It is believed that a non-expert, using basic identification material and with basic efforts, is unlikely to be able to distinguish these two hammerhead species from the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark. Thus, the great hammerhead and the smooth hammerhead shark should gain the same protection status under the Look-alike Clause.

But the FAO Panel was unable to come to a decision regarding the remaining three proposals to include two Manta ray species (CoP16 Proposal 46) and three species of freshwater stingrays ( CoP16 Proposal 47 and 48) in CITES Appendix II.

Due to a paucity of reliable information on historical or recent decline of both species of Manta ray, the advisory Panel was unable to identify reliable information to assess against the decline criteria throughout the range.

Regarding the three species of freshwater stingrays, the lack of sufficient data made it difficult to determine whether the species qualify globally under the CITES decline criteria.

You can download the full FAO Report with all details here.

What happened at the previous CITES Meeting in 2010 ???

The previous CITES 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP15) took place in Doha in March 2010.

In December 2009, the FAO Expert Advisory Panel assessment report had recommended to support the following three shark proposals (which were basically identical to the new proposals CoP16 Proposal 42, 43 and 44 mentioned above)  :

  • CoP15 Proposal 15 – Inclusion of Scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) in CITES Appendix II, along with the look-alike species, Great hammerhead shark (S. mokarran) and Smooth hammerhead shark (S. Zygaena).
  • CoP15 Proposal 16 – Inclusion of Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) in Appendix II.
  • CoP15 Proposal 17 – Inclusion of Porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) in Appendix II

They came to the conclusion that the available evidence supported the proposal to include these shark species in CITES listings.

But despite these recommendations by FAO experts, all the three proposals were rejected at the 15th CITES Meeting in Doha. Because they failed to win the two-third majority of the member votes.

Now we will see if the latest FAO Expert Advisory Report will have a more positive influence on CITES members in Bangkok next March.




  1. el-gee

    i read the link. thank you por posting. clearly, the evidence present of massive decline in manta populations is not enough for the bureaucrats that make these decisions.

    “Declining trends are estimated based on differences in landings of target fisheries in Lamakera and
    Lombok, Indonesia, and in the Philippines. Sightings data from dive operators are also used to infer
    trends. Neither source is considered to be a reliable indicator of changes in abundance”.

    As a consequence, there seems to be a dire need for a proper, global, study on manta population. ive seen some excellent reports, namely by Manta Ray of Hope, but maybe more needs to be done at Academia level

  2. Angel

    Manta Ray of Hope is a great work.
    I wonder if there is no sufficient data, why not include it until the proper research is done, The more you wait the more species are being killed.
    The dive operators are one of the most reliable sources you can have. They are there with the fish everyday. They observe them better than anyone. Also in most of the countries, there is no need to report manta landings. So without the historical data there is no way they can do a research.
    To have historical data you need decades.
    Than the game is over anyway.

  3. Wooow… Your article Very Nice…
    Dont forget visit to lombok indonesia…
    Many thank you.. bye.

  4. AlB

    I’ve been wondering all day what happened.
    I never thought this would happen after ICCAT , but great that it did.
    Thanks Helmut

  5. Thanks for this great article and keeping us informed of what is happening. Such a shame about the rays.

Leave a Reply