It was a big week for sharks! At this year’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) 19th Conference of Parties (CoP19) nearly 200 countries voted to add 97 new shark and ray species to CITES Appendix II listings. This will limit trade of these species to sustainable levels. To more than double the listings from 44 to 141 species is a tremendous win for sharks and for oceans.
Over the course of CoP19, governments from across the globe submitted and debated proposals to amend the list of species regulated under CITES. Three proposals were significant for threatened shark and ray species. The first, submitted by Panama and 40 other countries, proposed to list 54 requiem shark species, including blue sharks that account for roughly 40 percent of the Hong Kong fin trade and are often caught in high numbers. A second proposal, offered by the European Union, called for listing the remaining six species of the hammerhead shark family and passed by consensus — the first shark or ray proposal to ever do so at a CoP. Finally, a proposal to list the 37 remaining species in the guitarfish family, an ancient lineage of cartilaginous fishes, was offered by Israel and also passed.
These significant wins would not have been possible without the tireless efforts by Luke Warwick and the Wildlife Conservation Society, Mark Bond and Florida International University, and the Shark Conservation Fund (SCF) and Oceans 5 — grantees and funding collaboratives that The Moore Charitable Foundation is proud to support. Through advocacy over the years, CITES now regulates more than 90 percent of the Hong Kong fin trade; essentially the entire fin trade must now be regulated under CITES and the focus can now move towards implementation.
While these are great wins, we must continue to build on these successes and work to protect healthy shark and ray populations around the globe.