Thursday, 25 March 2010

Only one in four shark proposals adopted at CITES

Doha, Qatar, 23 March, 2010 (IUCN). Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted in favour of only one of four proposals to list shark species under CITES Appendix II, which requires international trade to be monitored and regulated.

A European Union proposal to list the porbeagle shark – a close relative of the great white shark – on Appendix II was adopted by a 67 per cent majority with 86 Parties in favour and 42 opposed. Proposals to list hammerhead, oceanic whitetip, and spiny dogfish sharks failed to achieve the required two-thirds majority of votes.

“The porbeagle shark is in demand for its high value meat, which is particularly popular in Europe - both meat and fins are traded internationally,” says Sonja Fordham, Deputy Chair of IUCN/SSC Shark Specialist Group. “Fisheries statistics and stock assessments show marked declines or complete population collapses in all areas where the data is available.”

Unsustainable fishing and population collapses of porbeagle are particularly well documented for the North Atlantic. Declining population trends have also been demonstrated for the Southern hemisphere.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ classifies the Porbeagle Shark as Vulnerable globally, Critically Endangered in the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, Endangered in the Northwest Atlantic and Near Threatened in the Southern Ocean.

“All of the shark species proposed for listing at this Conference are exceptionally vulnerable to overexploitation due to life history characteristics - such as slow growth, late maturity, and small number of young - and yet are subject to few fishing restrictions,” adds Fordham.

Analyses by IUCN and TRAFFIC concluded that all of the shark species proposed for listing at this Conference of the Parties meet the criteria for listing under Appendix II.

The Conference of the Parties concludes on Thursday. Decisions made in Committee can be revisited during the final Plenary sessions.

The proposals for porbeagle and spiny dogfish shark were developed by the EU while the hammerhead and oceanic whitetip shark proposals were offered by the US. Palau co-sponsored both proposals.

The IUCN/SSC Shark Specialist Group has held 13 regional and thematic workshops around the world in order to assess the threat status of more than 1,000 sharks and their relatives using the IUCN Red List Criteria and Categories.