United States and European Union Lead Way in Global Shark Conservation
Press Release Date: October 15, 2009
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
The United States submitted proposals last night to list six threatened shark species – oceanic whitetip, dusky, sandbar and great, scalloped and smooth hammerheads – under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
The European Union also submitted proposals for the listing of porbeagle and spiny dogfish sharks. Proposals submitted by October 14 will be considered for adoption at the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP15), which will take place in Doha, Qatar in March 2010.
“Shark fins are today’s ivory tusks,” said Courtney Sakai, senior campaign director at Oceana. “Like elephants, the world is realizing that sharks are more valuable alive than dead.”
All eight species are under pressure because of the increased global trade of shark products, particularly fins. An Appendix II listing would limit trade to sustainable levels by requiring export permits, thus protecting the future health of the species. Species such as polar bears, wolves and the American black bear are currently listed under Appendix II.
“This could be the turning point for sharks,” said Sakai. “If countries join together now we can promote the sustainable trade of sharks worldwide.”
The CITES proposals build upon domestic actions in the United States and Europe to protect sharks. In March, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Shark Conservation Act of 2009 (H.R. 81), which would end shark finning. The bill would require all sharks caught in U.S. waters to be landed with their fins naturally attached and close other loopholes in existing law. Similar legislation (S.850) is currently pending in the U.S. Senate.
This month, Spain announced a prohibition on the catch, landing and commercialization of hammerhead and thresher sharks. The Ministerial Order will take effect January 1 and apply to the entire Spanish fleet, regardless of where the boats operate. Also this month, the United Kingdom reinforced its shark finning ban eliminating previous loopholes and requiring all sharks to be landed with their fins naturally attached.
Many other countries are also taking action to protect sharks. Palau recently developed a 237,000 square mile “shark sanctuary,” where commercial shark fishing will be banned. The Maldives also recently banned all reef shark fishing within its waters to be implemented by March 2010.
For more information about the current state of global shark populations, please click here.