Reactive statement on aquatic species
Blue shark (Prionace glauca) Pico Island, Azores, Portugal
© / FrancoBanfi / WWF


18 November 2022: Important decision on guitarfish at CITES CoP19 in Panama: Parties voted in favor of listing an additional 37 species of guitarfish on Appendix II of the CITES convention. If the decision is confirmed in the plenary session at the end of the conference, international trade in guitarfishes will only be authorized through documents confirming that fishing of the rays is not harmful to the respective stocks.   

"With today's decision, the CITES conference is launching what is probably the largest protection package for sharks and rays. More than 90 percent of all traded shark and ray species will fall under the CITES convention in the future. For sharks and rays, which are extremely threatened by overfishing, this is a real liberation tevent. However, just as with the vote to protect requiem sharks and hammerheads, it is important that Parties continue to support this historic decision”, says Heike Zidowitz, shark and ray expert, WWF-Germany.

Guitarfishes are one of the most endangered groups within the ray species. Until now, only large-bodied species of other guitarfish families have been listed, but not the smaller ones, which are also highly endangered and can hardly be distinguished from the larger species in trade.

WWF welcomes today’s decision at CITES, which now allows for a clear and harmonized detection procedure of all 53 listed guitarfish species by customs authorities. Exporting countries must prove that the international trade of the rays does not further threaten their populations, and that effective management measures have been put in place in the respective range states.  

The Parties also voted in favor of including 3 species of sea cucumbers from the genus Thelenota. Sea cucumbers play a vital role in marine ecosystems, and these three large and more spectacular species are highly valued as both medicine and food. Once again, Appendix II listing can help to put international trade of these species on a sustainable footing. 

Finally, 7 endemic Brazilian species of South American freshwater stingrays, valued in the aquarium trade, were adopted for inclusion on Appendix II of the CITES convention by consensus. 

For more information, please contact:

Marsden Momanyi:  / Tel: +254 719784872

Monica Echeverria:  / Tel: +1 (202)378 33 96 (English and Spanish)