Five shark species and manta ray to get protection

national March 12, 2013 00:00


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Classification in Appendix II will regulate trade in their products

After being killed in unlimited numbers for decades, five shark species and the manta ray have won the protection of the world’s wildlife and plants summit, prompting countries to regulate trade in their products.

Yesterday, the five shark species – including the oceanic white-tip, scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, and porbeagle shark –  and the manta ray were classified under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES.)

The 16th Conference of the Parties (CoP 16) to CITES is being held until March 14 in Bangkok. The proposal to protect the oceanic white-tip shark was submitted by Brazil, Colombia and the US. The proposal to include the scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead and smooth hammerhead sharks was submitted by Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Honduras and Mexico

A proposal to protect the porbeagle shark, put forward by Brazil, Comoros, Croatia, Denmark and Egypt, won 93 votes, while 39 were against it and eight abstained. 

The proposal to save the oceanic white-tip shark got the backing of 92 nations, 42 were against and eight abstained. Three species of hammerhead sharks got the support of 91 nations, 39 were against and eight abstained.

The proposal for manta ray, submitted by Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador. Protection for the ceja river stingray has been sought by Colombia, won 96 votes, while 23 against, and 7 abstained.

The meeting also adopted the proposal to list freshwater sawfish in the top protection under the Appendix 1.

A delegate from Japan, which opposed the proposal and asked the meeting to vote in a secret ballot, said the oceanic white-tip shark should not be listed under the CITES’s protection and urged for better regional and local fishery management.

Meanwhile, representatives from Thailand said there was not enough data about the shark population and asked for more scientific evidence before making a conservation decision.

Brazil supported the proposal to list the oceanic white-tip shark in Appendix II, saying the listing would mean sustainable compliance by regional fisheries management organisations.

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. 

According to PEW, Hong Kong alone 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.

The shark species currently listed on CITES Appendices are the white shark Carcharodon carcharias, whale shark Rhincodon typus and basking shark Cetorhinus maximus, all three listed in Appendix II. 

In addition, at CoP14 it was decided to include all species of sawfish (family Pristidae) in Appendix I, with the exception of Pristis microdon, which is included in Appendix II

Thailand is now stepping forward to lobby the world’s wildlife and plant summit to support its efforts to renew the proposal to downgrade protection for the Siamese Crocodile and allow it to be traded, but with controls.

The move came after Thailand last week failed to get support from the representatives of 129 nations to back Thailand to delist the Siamese and saltwater crocodile from Appendix I to Appendix II so the Kingdom can continue exporting crocodile products.

“We will ask the plenary meeting to consider our proposal to downgrade the Siamese Crocodile from Appendix I to Appendix II again. We need 10 more countries to back our proposal and pass a two-thirds majority,” Fishery Department’s director general Wimol Jantrarotai said.

Delegates from the department will inform the conference on Wednesday of its proposals. However, it needs a third of the participants to support Thailand to win support.

“We will tell them that Thailand has no problem with illegal killing and trafficking of the forest crocodile. In fact, we have had only one case of illegal killing and trading in forest crocodiles,” he said. 

To date, Thailand has 200 Siamese crocodiles living in national parks, while some 200,000 Siamese and 20,000 saltwater crocs are being bred in 800 crocodile farms. 

Crocodile skin, meat and related products earns the country about Bt4 billion a year. 

In a related issue, Thailand’s proposal to list the Siamese Rosewood under Appendix II will be considered by the members today.

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