By international agreement, a majority of countries committed to protect 18 species of sharks and giant rays under proposals directed at conserving some of the ocean’s most charismatic fish threatened by commercial fishing and the Chinese demand for shark fin soup.
Sixteen species of wedgefishes and guitarfishes including two species of critically endangered mako sharks each passed with the needed two-thirds majority in a committee of the World Wildlife Conference known as CITES held in Geneva August 2019.
Scheduled to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in late May, due to sectarian violence, the CoP18 meetings were held August 17-28 in Geneva. Opposed by China and Japan, the required votes will help ensure the trade of fins from these sharks is reduced, or increasingly difficult to sell legally on the shark fin market.
The US supported the guitarfish and wedgefish listings but opposed the Mako shark listing, based on Pacific population estimates and fishing concerns. Blue sharks, originally considered for listing, failed to make the list of species under consideration. Both makos and blue sharks are highly represented in the global shark fin trade, and it is estimated by one study that 20 million blue sharks entered the shark fin trade in 2017.
These species are globally threatened due to the high demand for fins in the shark fin trade. The Governments of Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Mexico announced they would sponsor proposals to protect some of the worlds most endangered sharks at this year’s CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP18). The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Delegates supported listing shortfin and longfin mako sharks, 10 species of white-spotted wedgefish, and 6 species of giant guitarfish under CITES Appendix II at CoP18.
Shark Stewards joined forces with the Shark Research Institute and US Fish and Wildlife to advocate and lobby to increase protection for sharks and rays under CITES Appendix II. Your donations supported this work.
It has been estimated that the international trade in wild plants and animals worth billions of dollars a year. The harmful trade of shark fin is threatening the survival of many species of sharks. Momentum for international protections for sharks and rays continues to grow, with a record 67 governments co-sponsoring one or more listing proposals in the lead-up to this year’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference of the Parties (CoP18).
Species listed under Appendix II can be traded internationally but only if the trade does not cause detriment to them in the wild.