(Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)
CoP19 Nov 14 - 25, 2022 Panama Convention Center
ALL THIS WORK FOR A BOWL OF SOUP
CITES is an agreement between governments with the purpose to regulate the international trade of species of animals and plants to ensure they do not become extinct. The Conference of Parties (CoP) was penned in 1973 and the first CoP was held in 1975 with 80 initial governments participating. This week marks the 19th CoP and there are now 184 member nations participating voluntarily. CITES does not create laws but establishes an international framework for the participating nations to create their own domestic legislation in accordance with the CITES guidelines.
Shark Research Institute has been in attendance of CoPs since 2002 where our Executive Director, Marie Levine, was instrumental in achieving Appendix II status for Whale sharks. She has built a reputation of being a stalwart supporter of shark protection. Over the decades, she has presented sound science, delivered with fiery diplomacy, to the parties, and has been instrumental in obtaining trade regulations for sharks at every conference.
Prior to CoP19, CITES afforded Appendix II protections to 25% of all shark species. With props 37 and 38, there is a chance to protect 90% of global shark species.
About 70% of the sharks found in the fin trade are species that are threatened with extinction.
For the family of requiem sharks, 68% of the species are facing extinction
For the family of hammerhead sharks, 89% of the species are facing extinction.
To save these families of sharks, immediate action for protection is needed.
For this conference, SRI’s Hawaii Regional Director, Charlie Fasano, and researcher, David McGuire, attended CoP19 to win support for two shark proposals. The most important is prop 37 which requests that all the remaining species of sharks in the family Carcharinidae, that are not already listed with CITES, be given Appendix II trade protections. The proposal includes all Carcharinidae with 19 lead species documented and the remaining to be included as look-alike species. David was instrumental in getting blue sharks added to the proposal since they were not originally listed due to fisheries pressure. To the dismay of Charlie, whose main research is with tiger sharks in Hawaii, this species was not included since it is now in its own separate family of Galeocerdidae.
The other important proposal is prop 38 which requests the remaining species of hammerhead sharks, with the bonnethead shark as the lead, also be afforded Appendix II regulations.
Prop 37: Requiem sharks CITES Appendix II regulation: Approved with 75% vote
There is evidence of many different species of sharks currently in the international fin trade that are not CITES-protected species. Also, research shows a 70% decline in some of these species and complete depletions in certain locales. Furthermore, sorting the protected fins from the non-protected fins is a very time-consuming process. By adding these remaining requiem sharks to CITES, the fin trade inspections will be more efficient in properly assessing the industry. The 19 lead species of this proposal are listed as either "ENDANGERED" or "CRITICALLY ENDANGERED" on the IUCN Red List and in accordance with Article II paragraph 2(a) of the Convention, do satisfy Criterion A and B in Annex 2a of Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP17) for Appendix II listing.
Prop 38: Bonnethead and remaining Hammerhead sharks: Approved by unanimous consensus
Due to similarities in the fin shapes across the family and the belief that only the current CITES-protected sharks are in the trade, a trade loophole has been created. Updated research on the international fin trade shows evidence of non-CITES-listed species passing as protected species. This proposal primarily considers the Bonnethead shark (Sphyrna tiburo) for consideration but also includes all the remaining species of the Family Sphyrnidae (hammerhead sharks) that are not already listed. All species do meet the criteria for Appendix II listing in accordance with Article II paragraph 2(b) of the Convention and satisfying Criterion A in Annex 2b of Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP17).
Below are the material sheets SRI handed to the delegates to help win their support for props 37 and 38. A huge MAHALO goes to David McGuire for his diligent work on the content of the materials.
(click to download pdf)