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Shark Stewards Supports CITES Appendix II Protection for Mobula Rays, 4 Species of Shark

CAMPAIGN UPDATE: The Conference of the Parties at C0P 17 voted to support all CITES Appendix II Proposals for Elasmobranches.

Shark Stewards is working to support proposals to list the Silky Shark, Thresher Sharks and Mobula Rays under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).  This action will increase global protection of global shark, ray, and skate populations.

Specifically we are working to support the US co-sponsored proposal to protect Mobula Rays (Devil Rays and Eagle Rays) that are being heavily overfished for their gill rakers for the Traditional Chinese Medicine. These rays are being wiped out around the globe


Sign our petition to the US Fish and Wildlife Service supporting CITES protection for these species. We are independently urging Malaysia and Indonesia to reverse their opposition and support the listing of Mobula Rays.

The linked petition supports U.S. co-sponsorship of the proposal to include Mobula Rays in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).  It also strongly urges the U.S. to support the proposals to include the Silky Shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) and Thresher Sharks (Alopias ssp.) in Appendix II at CoP17 in Johannesburg this September.

When the CITES 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) takes place in Johannesburg in September and October, CITES Parties will vote on these proposals.  US support of proposals is crucial to their success.  Currently, more than 50 governments have co-sponsored proposals to protect Silky and Thresher Sharks, but the U.S. government has not yet made up its mind whether to support the adoption of these proposals.  

Specifically, we are supporting protection of these species: 

All 16 Species of Devil Rays (Mobula spp.)

The US has already co-sponsored this proposal.

The proposal covers all nine currently recognized Mobula species, including the Chilean Devil Ray (Mobula tarapacana) and Spinetail Devil Ray (M. japonica) which are proposed for inclusion in Appendix II because regulation of trade is necessary to avoid their becoming eligible for Appendix I in the near future” (Article II paragraph 2(a)).  

The seven other Mobula species are proposed for inclusion i a CITES Appendix II as “look-alike” species.

The greatest threat to devil rays is overfishing through largely unmonitored and unregulated incidental catches and target fisheries around the world.  Growing global demand for gill plates, particularly in China, has intensified fishing pressure.

Full proposal available here: https://cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/cop/17/prop/060216/E-CoP17-Prop-44.pdf

Silky Shark (Carcharhinus falciformis)

 Overfishing (in tuna longline and purse seine) fishing gear has led to declines in populations of between 70% and 90% throughout its worldwide range.

 Silky Sharks are listed as “Near Threatened” (likely to become endangered in the near future) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and “Vulnerable” (high risk of endangerment in the wild) in the eastern-central and southeastern Pacific Ocean and northwestern and west-central Atlantic Ocean.

Full proposal available here: https://cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/cop/17/prop/060216/E-CoP17-Prop-42.pdf

All Three Thresher Shark Species: Bigeye Thresher (Alopias superciliosus), Pelagic Thresher (Alopias pelagicus) and Common Thresher (Alopias vulpinus)

Over the last 30 years, Bigeye Thresher shark populations have declined 70% to 80% in the Atlantic Ocean and by over 80% declines in the Indian and Pacific Ocean percent in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (Baum, J.K. et al. 2003)

All three thresher species are listed as “Vulnerable” (high risk of endangerment in the wild) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Pelagic Threshers and Common Threshers are proposed for inclusion in Appendix II as “look-alike” species, i.e. species whose specimens in trade look like those of species listed for conservation reasons.

Full proposal available here: https://cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/cop/17/prop/060216/E-CoP17-Prop-43.pdf

About CITES Appendix II:

The purpose of a CITES Appendix II listing is to increase control of trade of species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but may become so unless action is taken.

A listing does not prohibit international trade in the species, rather it requires the granting of an export or re-export permit issued by the exporting country that must be verified by the importing country (no import permit is necessary).  The export permit is based on a ‘non-detriment finding’  made by the exporting country demonstrating that the level of export are not detrimental to the survival of the species.

 Note that a CITES Appendix II listing does not prevent institutions from importing animals for display in our collections. 

Here is the Federal Register Notice from USFWS: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/06/23/2016-14870/conference-of-the-parties-to-the-convention-on-international-trade-in-endangered-species-of-wild#h-7