Last week the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) commenced in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Saturday. The conference will run from the the 24th September – 5th October 2016.
CITES is an international treaty formed in 1973 between governments. The aim of agreement is “to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival” (CITES Secretariat, 2016). To date, the treaty constitutes of 183 participating parties whom meet on a triennial basis.
The agenda for CoP17 is set to evaluate the progress that has been made since CoP16, which took place in Bangkok 2013. In regards to sharks and their relatives, CITES are being urged to take control of the shark and ray trade, where proposals are being put forward for the amendment of Appendix II to include an additional 13 elasmobranch species to the existing 10 already listed, including: all three thresher shark species, silky sharks and nine species of devil ray (see below for full list). Appendix II is one of three appendixes to the Convention, where not all species are considered threatened with extinction but do require control in trade in order to prevent overexploitation and aid protection (CITES Secretariat, 2016).
Project aware have launched a global campaign which unites divers across the globe and urge the parties of CITES to vote YES to the protection of sharks and rays (under the hashtag #Divers4SharksNRays). The outcome of the three proposals will be made after being reviewed by the 183 parties of the convention.
Full list of CoP17 proposed species:
- Thresher Sharks (Alopias spp.)
- Pelagic Thresher Shark (Alopias pelagicus)
- Bigeye Thresher Shark (Alopias superciliosus)
- Common Thresher Shark (Alopias vulpinus)
- Silky Shark
- Silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis)
- Devil Rays (Mobula spp.)
- Giant devil ray (Mobula mobular)
- Lesser Guinean devil ray (Mobula rochebrunei)
- Chilean devil ray (Mobula tarapacana)
- Pygmy devil ray (Mobula eregoodootenkee)
- Smoothtail mobula (Mobula munkiana)
- Bentfil devil ray (Mobula thurstoni)
- Spinetail devil ray (Mobula japanica)
- Atlantic devil ray (Mobula hypostoma)
- Shortfin devil ray (Mobula kuhlii)