Sharks, Rays Being Added To CITES List 'Important Success' For Pacific Region

Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme
Apia, Samoa

October 10 2016

Silky sharks, all three species of thresher sharks and all nine species of mobula rays (devil rays) will be listed on Appendix II of CITES after a series of landslide votes at the 17th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“The listing of these species, and especially the mobula rays, which were initially championed by Fiji is an important success for our region,” said the director general of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Kosi Latu.

“The recent and rapid declines in the populations of silky and thresher sharks and mobula rays in the SPREP region have not been driven by Pacific Islanders, and the main markets for their products are outside the region. Like climate change impacts, Pacific island countries are not contributing to the problem, but are bearing most of the cost.”

While not a signatory, the Cook Islands is obligated to meet the requirement of CITES member countries such as Australia and New Zealand.  There has been controversy over shark protection in recent weeks, with allegations that a massive shark cull is being planned for Penrhyn lagoon.

There are three CITES Appendices to the Convention that agree to different levels of protection from over-exploitation. Appendix II lists species that may not be threatened with extinction at this very moment, but may become so unless trade is closely controlled.

Species listed on Appendix II require an export permit from the country of origin and an import permit from the country of destination. Both exporting and importing countries must be satisfied that any trade that occurs is not detrimental to the conservation and sustainable use of the species traded.

“Both sharks and large rays are cultural icons in many Pacific island countries and they make a significant contribution through ecotourism to the economies of many SPREP members.  “We congratulate Fiji, and their co-sponsors Samoa and Palau, in steering the mobula ray proposal through the CITES process, and we are grateful for the technical and political support provided by Australia and New Zealand.”

“Despite vigorous opposition by several large fishing nations, the listing proposal was supported by over three-quarters of the voting countries. This excellent result is another example of the growing power of the Pacific Voice in international meetings. SPREP is delighted to have been able to support Fiji throughout this process, and we will continue to support our members in the implementation of these decisions.

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