SHARK SPECIES SET FOR GLOBAL PROTECTION AT UN CONFERENCE
October 26, 2017
In a major conservation breakthrough for sharks, the whale shark, blue shark and dusky shark are set to be given new protections at the Twelfth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS CoP12) in the Philippines.
Nations agreed unanimously to upgrade the whale shark to the highest level of protection on Appendix I. Appendix I is for migratory species that have been assessed as being in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range.
The blue and dusky sharks are to be listed in Appendix II of the Convention which asks countries to cooperate together to achieve their conservation through formal agreements.
“This is a huge win for these three shark species that are experiencing rapid population declines. Countries have come together to take vital steps in reversing the alarming trends facing these species in oceans around the world,” said Nicola Beynon, Humane Society International’s Head of Campaigns in Australia.
The IUCN Shark Specialist Group has estimated that 24% of the world’s approximately 1,250 shark and ray species are threatened with extinction, placing them among the most threatened of the vertebrate groups.
The blue shark is the most migratory and wide ranging of all sharks but it is caught in fisheries and as bycatch at a staggering 20 million individuals a year, making it the most commonly found shark in the destructive fin trade.
The dusky shark is also a prominent species of the fin trade. Both blue and dusky sharks are killed in longline fisheries, including in Australia, and their fins exported to Asia.
The parties also endorsed guitarfish for listing, however Australia made statement of concern regarding a proposal to list wedgefish. Wedgefish and guitarfish are species of ray. Australia supported the listing of the other sharks. However, Humane Society International is urging Australia to not repeat past actions by taking out reservations against these blue and dusky shark listings. In the past Australia has taken out reservations against CMS listings for hammerheads and thresher sharks to avoid giving them strict protection under our national environment laws, so they can continue to be caught by commercial and recreational fishers.
“It’s crucial Australia upholds its reputation in marine conservation and doesn’t cave into pressure from commercial and recreational fisheries again because our endangered marine life is too important and must be protected,” concluded Ms Beynon.
These listings will be confirmed at the plenary on Saturday.