CoP18 Sharks and Rays
 

CITES Listed Shark Species

First included in the CITES Appendices in 2003, most species of sharks and rays are listed in CITES Appendix II, which aims to ensure trade in these species is both legal and sustainable. There are currently 30 species of sharks and rays whose trade is managed by this Convention.

 
 
Sawfish.jpg

Sawfishes (7 species)

Sawfishes are the only shark species that are listed in CITES Appendix I, which is essentially a ban on international trade. Despite widespread evidence of declines across their range, management was not put in place for these species for decades. By the time was put in place for sawfishes, there was no longer any level of trade that could be considered sustainable.

Sawfishes are evidence that for species as biologically vulnerable as sharks and rays, it is critical that effective management measures are put in place before populations are so severe that the only potential management are prohibitions.

 
Jim Abernethy

Jim Abernethy

Oceanic Whitetip sharks

Oceanic whitetip sharks are listed in CITES Appendix II. Although it is one of the most widespread shark species, found throughout the world's tropical and temperate seas, it is also one of the most threatened.

Assessments of oceanic whitetip populations have indicated that stocks have declined by 99% in the Gulf of Mexico, over 70% in the northwest Atlantic and 90% in the Pacific Ocean. They are assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as critically endangered in the northwest and western central Atlantic Ocean and as vulnerable globally.

 
Great hammerhead | Jim Abernethy

Great hammerhead | Jim Abernethy

Scalloped, smooth and great Hammerhead Sharks

Three species of hammerhead sharks are listed in CITES Appendix II. Hammerhead sharks are one of the most distinctive creatures on the planet, is subject to targeted fisheries, illegal fishing, and fishery bycatch throughout the world. Unlike other species of sharks, hammerheads frequently aggregate in large numbers, which makes them more vulnerable to fishing efforts.

Targeted and caught as bycatch in the purse seine and longline fisheries, hammerhead populations fell upwards of 90% across the Atlantic and as high as 99% in the Mediterranean.

Pelagic thresher shark | Shawn Heinrichs

Pelagic thresher shark | Shawn Heinrichs

Bigeye, Pelagic and common thresher sharks

All three species of thresher sharks are listed in CITES Appendix II. In a 2014 study, all three thresher shark species were identified as the most vulnerable to extinction of all pelagic shark families due to their slow life history and lack of global management. Thresher sharks are frequently caught in offshore tuna and swordfish long-line and gillnet fisheries, and also targeted in some parts of their range.

The Hong Kong shark fin market provided some of the best data to assess trends in trade in shark products. In the early 2000s, thresher shark species made up 2.0-2.7% of fins in trade. By 2015, this had fallen rapedly to some 0.03-0.53% of the sharks in the Hong Kong fin market. This is a 77-99% decline in thresher shark fins in trade. With a lack of management throughout the species range and inadequate enforcement of the limited management measures that existed, Parties in 2016 found that all these species were in need of trade management under the CITES Convention.

 
Silky shark | Alex Hofford

Silky shark | Alex Hofford

Silky sharks

Silky sharks are listed in Appendix II of CITES. Silky sharks are one of the most commonly caught shark species in tuna long-line and purse seine fishing gear. It is estimated that as of 2016, they had suffered declines of 60-80% in the Pacific Ocean, 69-90% in the Atlantic, and 50-90% in the Indian Ocean.

 
Mobula rays | Shawn Heinrichs

Mobula rays | Shawn Heinrichs

Mobulid Rays

All 11 mobulid ray species are listed in Appendix II of CITES. One of the least fecund elasmobranchs in the ocean, mobulid rays may only have one pup every two to three years. The schooling behavior of some of the species also makes them highly vulnerable to human exploitation. Globally, it is estimated that mobulid rays have declined 50-99% worldwide.