CITES turns down most bids to reel in shark overfishing
The Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) governments voted against proposals to list three hammerhead sharks (scalloped, great and smooth), the oceanic whitetip and the spiny dogfish on Appendix II of the Convention, which would enforce better management of the fishery for international commercial trade and allow their declining populations to recover.
However, governments did vote to include the porbeagle shark – overfished primarily for its meat and fins – on Appendix II.
“Once again CITES has failed to listen to the scientists. The decision not to list all of these sharks today is a conservation catastrophe for these species,” said Glenn Sant, Global Marine Programme Co-ordinator for TRAFFIC.
“Populations of these sharks have declined by more than 90% in some areas, many of them caught illegally and destined to end up in the shark-fin trade. They are targeted because of their high value.”
“The current level of trade in these species is simply not sustainable.”
The proposals’ rejection follows the failure of other proposals at CITES last week to introduce stronger trade restrictions for red and pink corals, and an outright ban on the international commercial trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna – both despite overwhelming scientific evidence that additional protection for these species is needed.
“These marine species are in dire need of stronger trade protections and sound management. We will continue to fight for this,” said Carlos Drews, Director, Species Programme, WWF International. “The vitality of our oceans upon which millions of people depend, relies on healthy populations of species such as sharks and corals.”
The sharks discussed at today’s meeting are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they are all slow growing, late to mature, long-living and produce few young, which means it is difficult for populations to recover from overfishing.
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, is a joint program of WWF and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The 15th meeting of CITES governments began March 13 and ends on Thursday, and will consider proposals related to dozens of species and species trade issues.