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Shark Info 4 / 02   (12-20-2002)

Author

  Intro:

Remote detection sonar threatens the oceans

Shark Info

  Main article:

Remote detection sonar threatens the oceans

Dr. A. J. Godknecht

  Article 1:

CITES Appendix II to finally include whale sharks and basking sharks

Shark Info

  Article 2:

Shark Research Trip to the Gulf of Mexico (Part II)

Dr. A. J. Godknecht, Dr. G. D. Guex

  Fact Sheet:

Cuban dogfish

Shark Info


CITES Appendix II to finally include whale sharks and basking sharks

Report by Shark Info

Santiago, Chile, November 15, 2002
On the last day of the 12th CITES Conference an overwhelming majority of delegates voted to take up whale sharks and basking sharks in Appendix II (see box) of the Convention. The global protection of these two largest shark species is extremely important for the survival of these plankton-eating species which migrate long distances through diverse country boundaries.

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), regulates cross-border trade with products made of protected species. CITES consists of 160 member states and various conservation organizations as well as governmental divisions.

Sharks have been a topic at CITES ever since 1994. At the 11th Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, a suggestion made by Australia, England, the U.S. and various conservation organizations to add white sharks, whale sharks and basking sharks to Appendix II fell short of the required two-thirds majority (see Shark Info News).) by only a few votes. This time the delegates voted 81 to 37 for the protection of the whale shark and 82 to 36 for the basking shark.

This extremely positive decision for whale and basking sharks was preceded by years of negotiations. Up until now the protection of endangered shark species was especially hindered by the extensive lobbying of shark-catching nations and fishing associations. The arguments of the shark-catching lobby were always the same and included the claim that not enough scientifically based information was available to warrant the protection of shark species. Steven Broad, Director of TRAFFIC, was able to refute these arguments.

“There is no doubt that these species (Editor’s note: whale and basking sharks) fulfill the criteria for Appendix II. We have clear historical proof that their populations have decreased because they are being fished for international trade”, said Broad. The Philippine representative transformed this statement into concrete terms. Between 1994 and 2000 worldwide whale shark populations witnessed a drastic reduction in numbers, in the Philippines by 60 to 70%, in India by 48% and in South Africa even by 99%.

TRAFFIC, a WWF organization which supervises the international trade of threatened species, played a major role in this positive decision benefiting sharks. TRAFFIC views this change of policy on sharks as a milestone decision on the part of CITES members for it indicates that CITES is apparently no longer reduced to a conservation organ dealing with the regulation of large-scale international trade. Instead, its efforts to protect species are now deemed to serve the sustainability of each country’s natural resources.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has already added whale and basking sharks to their Red List of endangered species (see Shark Info 2/1996).

Meaning of CITES Appendix II

The species appearing on Appendix II are not yet threatened by extinction, but will become so if their trade, or any products made from them, are not subjected to strong regulations. International trade with species on Appendix II is only permitted with export permits or reexport certificates. No import permits are required. Permits and certificates are only granted when the appropriate authorities are sufficiently sure that certain conditions, primarily the survival of the species in freedom, are fulfilled.

May be published only by indicating the source: Shark Info



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