“Sharks are an underappreciated asset in their role maintaining marine biodiversity. They are critical to ocean health and today, the world made the right move by voting the requiem sharks proposal forward toward adoption.”
In a monumental step for marine conservation, two proposals to protect 60 sharks passed the first hurdle towards protection by the 19th Conference of the Parties (CoP19) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
“Sharks are an underappreciated asset in their role maintaining marine biodiversity,” said Alejandra Goyenechea, senior international counsel with Defenders of Wildlife. “They are critical to ocean health and today, the world made the right move by voting the requiem sharks proposal forward toward adoption.”
Governments attending COP19 in Panama voted in favor of listing all 54 species of the requiem shark family on CITES Appendix II, as well as one bonnethead and five look-alike sharks. Bonnetheads are a small hammerhead species. However, the proposals still need to be confirmed by the plenary at the end of the conference.
Prior to the introduction of the requiem shark proposal, Panama delegates had argued that the proposal should have been for Appendix I instead of II given that nearly a third of the requiem shark species are already critically endangered or endangered. During the debate, Japan said that the inclusion of 35 look-alike species was an abuse of the listing process. It was a big sticking point for many other countries as well.
Among the leading causes of the decline in sharks has been the shark fin trade. The requiem family of sharks account for more than 50% of the trade in shark fins, and 70% of the family is already threatened to extinction.