CoP18 Sharks and Rays

Global Implementation

Implementation efforts for the CITES listed sharks and rays have been both unprecedented in the history of the convention in terms of scale, and highly successful in their application. Since 2013, governments, NGOs, and other partner organizations have provided training worldwide and support to governments as they implement these listings. These sessions have offered guidance and capacity building and have included topics of scientific and technical species assessments, shark fin identification, and enforcement guidance.

 
Countries who hosted CITES Shark and Ray implementation trainings from 2013-2015 | The Pew Charitable Trusts

Countries who hosted CITES Shark and Ray implementation trainings from 2013-2015 | The Pew Charitable Trusts

Management for Sharks

The listings since 2013 of regularly commercially traded species are providing the spark to manage the listed species, and in some cases wider shark and ray species that has been lacking for decades and has driven global declines of many species.

The exact action has varied by Government, but since 2013 action has been global.  Some countries have undertaken NDFs with some showing it is possible to continue international trade with conditions (many of which are available on the CITES shark and ray portal as examples to others), while others have put in place domestic management measures that include: prohibiting exports, prohibiting catch, and establishing shark sanctuaries which prohibit all catch and trade of sharks in their waters.  

Implementation workshop in Sri Lanka | The Pew Charitable Trusts

Implementation workshop in Sri Lanka | The Pew Charitable Trusts

Trainings

Approximately 60 regional and domestic shark and ray CITES implementation workshops have taken place globally since 2014 (with some occurring in the same location multiple times): These countries include but are not limited to Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cape Verde, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Samoa, Hong Kong, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.  


Enforcement in the Global Shark Fin Hub

Over 50 percent of the annual global shark fin trade passes through Hong Kong, SAR, making effective implementation of the CITES listings there particularly important. Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department (AFCD) has been at the forefront of global efforts to implement the new listings, ensuring that Hong Kong, SAR is fully compliant with CITES obligations.

 AFCD has made proper CITES implementation for shark species a priority, conducting nine trainings over four years.

 Since November 2014, Hong Kong officials have confiscated over 5 metric tons of illegally traded CITES listed shark fins based on preliminary visual identification. This shows how the tools available for listed species allow for effective enforcement – even in the words trade hub. This is a great example of how quickly Governments have taken action to start to implement CITES and offer the first controls to the unsustainable global trade in shark fins.

 To additionally aid in implementation efforts, AFCD has begun to use a rapid DNA toolkit, which can identify even CITES listed processed shark fins and meat in trade. In fewer than four hours and for less than a dollar a sample, this machine allows Hong Kong, SAR to verify that confiscated fins are from listed species, and similar technology is in development for global use.

Enforcement workshop in Hong Kong | Stan Shea

Enforcement workshop in Hong Kong | Stan Shea


Thresher sharks were listed on Appendix II at CoP17 | Shawn Heinrichs

Thresher sharks were listed on Appendix II at CoP17 | Shawn Heinrichs

CITES Listings driving domestic management for sharks

Since the first listings of commercially traded shark and ray species in 2013, CITES Parties around the globe must put in place domestic measures to ensure their obligations under CITES are met.

Parties have done so in several ways. Many countries, such as Sri Lanka, Peru and Colombia have created non-detriment findings and fisheries controls to continue trade in these species—just capped at sustainable levels. Others, such as the Philippines or Cape Verde opted to prohibit the catch in several of the CITES listed species, and some such as the UAE and India banned fin exports to ensure compliance with their CITES obligations. For some countries, where shark ecotourism is often worth more than shark fisheries—such as the Dominican Republic and Samoa—have met their CITES obligations through the ban of catch, sale and trade of all shark species within their waters.

Effective shark management does not have a one size fits all solution, but through CITES, more and more governments are recognizing that making healthy shark populations a priority—whether for fisheries or ecotourism purposes, is beneficial in the long term.