U.S. and Mexico pursuing shark and ray trade measures

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SAI News Release
Media contact: Liz Morley: 843.693.5044

Countries propose to list ten shark and ray species under international wildlife treaty

Washington, DC. October 5, 2012. At least 37 countries, including the United States and Mexico, have proposed protections for ten shark and ray species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The U.S. will join Colombia in leading an effort to secure trade measures for the oceanic whitetip shark. In cooperation with at least five other countries and the European Union, Mexico is pursuing protections for three species of hammerheads. Other species proposed by various CITES Parties include the porbeagle shark, both manta rays, and three freshwater stingrays.

All of these proposals target listing on CITES Appendix II, which would prompt permits to ensure international trade is legal and sustainable, as a complement to fisheries management. CITES Parties will debate and vote on listing proposals in March 2013 in Bangkok.

"International trade is a major driver for shark fisheries around the world, and yet controls on this exploitation are woefully insufficient," said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates. "We are grateful for continued U.S. leadership in addressing international shark trade, and welcome this unprecedented number of proposals to safeguard these vulnerable species under CITES."

Hammerhead fins are valuable for use in a traditional, celebratory Chinese soup. Scalloped, great, and smooth hammerheads have been proposed for CITES listing. Scalloped and great hammerheads are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as globally Endangered. Proponents joining Mexico include Brazil, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Honduras, and the 27 Member States of the EU.

"Hammerhead sharks are among the most threatened of the wide-ranging sharks, due largely to the high demand for their fins," said Rebecca Regnery, Deputy Director for Wildlife at Humane Society International. "We are particularly pleased that Mexico, an influential shark-fishing nation, has joined the effort to conserve hammerheads through CITES with this strong proposal."

The oceanic whitetip shark, porbeagle, both manta rays, and the smooth hammerhead are listed by IUCN as globally Vulnerable. The freshwater stingrays are considered Data Deficient.

Porbeagles are prized for meat as well as fins. Manta rays are increasingly targeted for their gill rakers, which are used in Chinese medicine. Freshwater stingrays are traded for display in aquariums.

The porbeagle proposal comes from the EU and is cosponsored by Brazil, Comoros, and Egypt. Ecuador has put forth the mantas while Colombia has proposed the freshwater stingrays.

Notes to Editors:
Shark Advocates International (SAI) is a project of The Ocean Foundation formed to advance sound conservation policies for sharks and rays. Humane Society International (HSI) is one of the only international animal protection organizations in the world working to protect all animals. SAI and HSI are collaborating with Wildlife Conservation Society, Project AWARE, Shark Trust, and the German Elasmobranch Society to promote CITES listings for sharks and rays.

This information is based on a provisional list posted by CITES. The final list is anticipated within days.

Shark Advocates International (SAI) is a project of The Ocean Foundation established to provide leadership in advancing sound policies for sharks and rays. Based on nearly 20 years of shark conservation achievement, SAI works to secure science-based limits on shark fishing and trade, protection for endangered species, and stronger bans on shark finning.