CITES to discuss proposals for the protection of shark, ray species

national March 11, 2013 00:00

By Pongphon Sarnsamak
The Nation

5,849 Viewed

International environmental advocates are calling on the member countries of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to include five shark species and manta ray in the world's protection list to control

About six proposals to put five sharks – porbeagle, scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, and oceanic whitetip – and two species of ray – manta ray and ceja river stingray – will be one of the hot topics at the world’s wildlife and plant summit. The delegates will make a decision on whether to put these marine species into the CITES Appendix II, which regulates international trade.

The proposal to include scalloped hammerhead shark, great hammerhead shark and smooth hammerhead shark has been submitted by Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Honduras and Mexico.
The proposal to put the oceanic white-tip shark has been submitted by Brazil, Columbia and the US. 
Trade protection for porbeagle has been proposed by Brazil, Comoros, Croatia, Denmark and Egypt.
The proposal for manta ray has been submitted by Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador. Protection for the ceja river stingray has been sought by Colombia.
Today’s meeting will also study a proposal by Australia to transfer the freshwater sawfish from Appendix II to the top protection and ban for trade under Appendix I.
“We are very hopeful that this meeting on the 40th anniversary of the CITES treaty will finally agree to do the right things and to fulfil its mandate to regulate the trade of species that may be threatened, and that includes five shark species and manta ray in the proposal,” Susan Lieberman, a deputy director of Pew Charitable Trusts’s International Policy, said.
“This is not about anti-trade. This is about regulating trade. Many countries fishing sharks and many countries trading sharks are sponsors of this proposal as they want to make sure that this trade is legal and sustainable,” she added.
The population decline of the five shark species is due to the high demand for their meat and fins, which are used for food. 
Scientists estimate that 1.3 million to 2.7 million scalloped and smooth hammerheads and 250,000 to 1.3 million oceanic white-tip sharks are killed annually to meet the demand for shark fins, an ingredient of shark-fin soup.
According to PEW, Hong Kong – the world’s largest shark-fin market – represents about 50 per cent of global trade. The trade data from the Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong estimates that 83 countries exported more than 10.3 million kilograms of shark-fin products to Hong Kong in 2011.
Like sharks, the population of manta rays are also at risk because of an increasing demand for their gill plates, which are used in some parts of the world as traditional medicines. 
Meanwhile, Thailand’s delegations will today also ask the members of the meeting to adopt the proposal to list the Siamese Rosewood in Appendix II to seek trade control.