CoP18 Sharks and Rays
 

Materials

Over the past 6 years, Governments, IGOs, NGOs, and the Secretariat have worked to develop tools to assist interested Parties to properly implement the listings of sharks and rays on Appendix II of CITES. Below is a collection of background materials, tools, and resources that can inform and assist those looking to learn more about sharks and rays in CITES or implement both the currently listed and proposed listings at home.

For more information on the shark and ray species currently listed on the CITES appendices, please click here.

 
 
Photo Credit: Matt Potenski

Photo Credit: Matt Potenski

Sharks and Rays: Road to Recovery

More information on all of these species, including updated IUCN assessments, cosponsors, range maps and more can be found in our policy brief.

Giant guitarfish and wedgefish fins in Hong Kong markets | Stan Shea

Giant guitarfish and wedgefish fins in Hong Kong markets | Stan Shea

VISUAL IDENTIFICATION GUIDES FOR WEDGEFISH AND GIANT GUITARFISH

Much like the currently listed shark and ray species, giant guitarfish and wedgefish fins can be identified to the Family level, allowing CITES parties to effectively enforce these listings as well.

The proposed CoP18 listings for wedgefish and giant guitarfish can be identified in trade in their most commonly traded form, dried and unprocessed fins. With the support of WCS and Vulcan Inc, Gulf Elasmo Project has created a visual identification guide for these species so should the proposals pass at CoP18, CITES Parties will be able to effectively enforce these listings.

 
Steve De Neef, Rima W. Jabado, and Andy Murch

Steve De Neef, Rima W. Jabado, and Andy Murch

VISUAL IDENTIFICATION GUIDE FOR MAKO SHARKS

Shortfin mako sharks have been proposed to be listed on CITES Appendix II at CoP18 in May 2019, with longfin mako sharks listed as a look-alike species. These species, like previously listed shark species, have distinctive fins that can be readily identified in trade. This guide provides the steps needed to distinguish both shortfin and longfin mako sharks from other species in the international shark fin trade.

 
GG+Study+cover.jpg

NEW RESEARCH ON SHARK-LIKE RAYS IN TRADE

Two recent studies of Hong Kong, SAR and mainland China markets have revealed that guitarfishes, or shark-like rays, are more prevalent in the international trade than previously thought. Suspected by Clarke (2003) but not confirmed until recent studies were able to conduct genetic analyses, guitarfish have been found to have their own retail category, ‘Qun Chi’ with some processed fins sold for as much as $964 USD per kilogram.

The study conducted by BLOOM Hong Kong found that in surveyed markets of Hong Kong, SAR and mainland China, more than one tenth of dried seafood shops (12.9% and 15.5% respectively) were selling Qun Chi, both processed and unprocessed.

Given the global lack of management for shark-like rays, their noted significant declines in populations and newfound significance in the international fin trade, this study sheds additional light on the need to list both giant guitarfish and wedgefish Families on Appendix II of CITES.

The Pew Charitable Trusts

The Pew Charitable Trusts

VISUAL IDENTIFICATION OF LISTED SPECIES

The CITES listed shark and ray species are easily identified in their most commonly traded form, dried and unprocessed fins. To assist Parties effectively implement their CITES obligations, the FAO, NOAA and The Pew Charitable Trusts, among others, have each created visual identification guides that can assist enforcement and fisheries officials identify these species in trade.

Visual identification guides are available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, and Portuguese.

 
The Pew Charitable Trusts

The Pew Charitable Trusts

GENETIC TOOLS

Visual identification is the most commonly used technique to identify shark products in trade, but to verify suspected CITES listed fins, or in the case of processed fins or meat, genetic testing is often needed.

Depending on the number of samples needed to test and how processed or degraded the samples are, three approaches have been created to identify whether products are sources from CITES listed shark and ray species.

Genetic protocols have been created for all CITES listed species, and are being created for the species proposed for listing at CoP18.

 
Processed fins in Hong Kong | Stan Shea

Processed fins in Hong Kong | Stan Shea

 

Non Detriment finding tutorials

In addition to the creation of tools to identify CITES listed shark species in trade, multiple governments and organizations have developed guidelines to assist in the creation of non-detriment findings, or NDFs. NDFs are required for Parties to demonstrate that their trade in the sharks and rays listed on Appendix II of CITES is both legal and capped at sustainable levels. In addition, several CITES Parties have shared their NDFs as examples for other countries to replicate.

Shawn Heinrichs

Shawn Heinrichs

rapid inexpensive dna toolkit

The FinDNA toolkit is a rapid, inexpensive DNA testing system for CITES-listed sharks that can be used during inspections. With the DNA Toolkit, border control personnel can easily identify dried unprocessed shark fins using visual techniques. This facilitates straightforward implementation of CITES obligations for many countries.