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
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
last change: 06-04-2016 11:48