18 Additional Shark and Ray Species Were Just Voted To Be Protected Under Appendix II of CITES

It was agreed to place 18 additional shark and ray species on Appendix II of CITES this week. This means that international trade in these species will be regulated and countries will be incentivized to manage the fisheries for these species to ensure they are sustainable.

The 18 species of sharks and rays that are now protected include: 2 mako shark species; 6 guitarfish species, and 10 wedgefish species.

Luke Warwick, associate director for sharks and rays at the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement, “Sharks are vulnerable wildlife too, and again, CITES member governments have stepped up and recognized that via inclusion in CITES Appendix II, Mako, giant guitarfish and wedgefish all received needed trade protections.

“With these Appendix II proposals adopted, there is now hope for these 18 depleted species of sharks and rays. WCS will work with countries around the world to ensure that these listings result in the protections and fisheries management measures that these species desperately need.”

Fisheries for sharks are crucial for many local communities around the world, but for species as vulnerable as these sharks and rays, which play key roles in healthy marine ecosystems, the extra safeguards of CITES listings are an essential first step toward proper management.

The CITES Party governments clearly sought to strengthen efforts to prevent the extinction of mako, guitarfish and wedgefish sharks and rays. Sharks and rays are among the most threatened species on our planet and momentum is clearly building to ensure that these species – which have been around for 400 million years – continue to be around for future generations.

The 18 species protected today include the flattened relatives of sharks called wedgefish and giant guitarfish, that together were recently found to be the most threatened families of marine fish found on the planet, and whose fins are the most expensive in international markets, where they are prized for use in shark fin soup.

Also receiving protection today were the world’s fastest sharks, the shortfin and longfin mako. These two species, the “cheetahs of the ocean”, play key roles as top predators in the world’s high seas, and are highly valued for their meat, along with their fins, they are caught in huge numbers globally in commercial and recreational fisheries. This CITES listing will help ensure that the fisheries bodies that have ignored their management for decades prioritize it in the coming years.

These three shark proposals at CITES CoP18 received the highest level of co-sponsorship for any proposal in the more than 40-year history of the CITES Convention. The co-sponsors included both developed and developing countries, from across the globe, further demonstrating that a wide range of member governments realize the need for CITES to regulate the global trade in shark fins, along with other products such as meat, to help prevent unsustainable and illegal trade from driving these ecologically critical predators toward extinction.”

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