During the most recent Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference of the Parties meeting in Bangkok, countries agreed to increase protection for five commercially-exploited species of sharks and manta rays.
In March, CITES member nations, referred to as “Parties”, voted in support of listing the oceanic whitetip shark, the porbeagle shark, scalloped, smooth, and great hammerhead sharks, and manta rays in CITES Appendix II. The action calls for increased protection, but still allows legal and sustainable trade.
Support of the listings came from a coalition of countries including Brazil, Colombia, the European Union, Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, Mexico, Comoros, Egypt, and the United States. Additional support came from Senegal and Sierra Leone.
Due to their low reproduction rates and high economic value, populations of the newly listed shark species have suffered severe declines. Porbeagle sharks also face pressures due to demand for their meat, while manta rays are over-harvested for their gill plates.
Sharks are overfished in many parts of the world due to a demand for fins. Shark fins are commonly exported to Asia, where they are a main ingredient in shark fin soup.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement initiated in 1973. The convention is currently signed by 178 countries regulating global trade in imperiled wild animals and plants including their parts and products.
A meeting of the Conference of the Parties is held every 2-3 years to review, discuss, and negotiate changes in the management and control of trade in the various wildlife species covered by the agreement.
source: NOAA Fisheries