CITES 2016 is comming up!

International (illegal) trade in wild plants and animals is a major global problem that threatens the survival of many species. This trade can be anything ranging from live animals and plants to many products derived from live animals such as shark fins. In order to ensure that international trade in animal and plant (products) does not threaten the survival of species, CITES was established.

What is CITES?

CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. It is an international agreement between governments which was formally put into operation on the 1st of July 1975. CITES is one of the largest global conservation agreements and it currently has 183 member parties (countries). Participation is voluntary and does not take the place of national laws. CITES can be seen as a framework that the parties can use in order to adopt its own domestic legislation, to ensure that the convention is implemented at a national level (https://cites.org/eng/disc/what.php).

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Today CITES protects over 5,600 species of animals and 30,000 species of plants against over-exploitation through international trade. All of the protected species are listed in three appendices where they are grouped according to their degree of threat (https://cites.org/eng/app/index.php).

CITES on sharks?

Worldwide there are more than 500 shark (related) species known to man, yet only a few have global protection. Since 2013, after CoP16 in Bangkok, eight species of sharks (see below) and all species of manta rays were included in appendix II of the convention.

  • Basking shark
  • Whale shark
  • Great white shark
  • Oceanic whitetip shark
  • Porbeagle shark
  • Scalloped hammerhead shark
  • Smooth hammerhead shark
  • Great hammerhead shark
  • Manta rays

It is estimated that about 100 million sharks are killed each year and often they are killed for only their fins. This has led to the fact that nowadays over 180 shark species are threatened with extinction, so….How come there are only a few shark species under the protection of CITES?

In order for species to even have the possibility of making it to one of the appendices and gain protection of CITES two-third of the parties have to approve the proposal. In the past sharks have been a difficult area of discussion, especially for countries like Japan and China which is the world’s largest shark fin trader and consumer. These countries keep fighting all attempts made by other parties in order to extend the CITES protection of shark and other marine species.

What will happen this year?

CoP17 takes place from 24 September to 5 October 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. This year thirteen species of sharks and rays are up for review; nine species of devil rays, three species of thresher sharks and the silky shark. All the parties will review the proposals whereof two-thirds of the majority support is needed in order to add these species to the CITES appendix II. We can only hope that all these species, and more in the future, will fall under the protection of CITES.

Thresher sharks

Shark Guardian and CITES

CITES is a forceful global agreement that really contributes to the survival of species and ensures protection for many of the threatened species. However, it is extremely important that conservation groups keep informing people, companies and governments about how and why species need to be protected. This is exactly what Shark Guardian does for all the sharks and shark related species and this was why Shark Guardian was present at the CoP16 (2013) in Bangkok.

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How to get involved?!

By signing the petitions below you can reinforce the importance of these sharks becomming protected by CITES. If you want to learn more about sharks you should definitly join Shark Guardian at one of their presentations! The next presentation will take place on september 16th at Joe’s gone diving, Bali, Indonesia. Click this link to check out all the upcomming Shark Guardian events!

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