SAVING SEAHORSES

New protections for sharks and rays

In 2013, Project Seahorse scholarship and advocacy played a distinctive role in decisions to regulate all international trade in five species of sharks and both manta rays.

Stock photo

Stock photo

Dr. Amanda Vincent and three international high-profile colleagues rushed to complete a thorough analysis of the CITES’ mandate over marine species, just in time for its decision making global meeting. Their research demonstrated that the Convention is one of the most relevant and appropriate legal instrument for promoting sound fisheries management. 

 
 

 “Many of the 180 countries that have signed on to CITES are worried about their fisheries exports being regulated by an outside authority” says Prof. Vincent. “Our analysis identified many ways that CITES’ protection for marine fishes could be a great complement to existing national management and regional accords.”

 
 

 
 

CITES is one of the most relevant and appropriate legal instrument for promoting sound fisheries management. 
 

 
 

Among a constellation of strong initiatives for the sharks and rays, the Project Seahorse-led work stood out by investigating the problem from an academic angle and then, critically, immediately translating findings into policy briefings. 

Thanks to help from the US delegation, the team placed executive summaries in English, French, Spanish in the hands of every national delegation and influential actor who might affect the outcome of votes at the CITES meeting. 
 

 
Seahorses were listed on Appendix II of CITES in 2002, leading the way for other marine fishes. Luciano Candisani/iLCP

Seahorses were listed on Appendix II of CITES in 2002, leading the way for other marine fishes. Luciano Candisani/iLCP

 

The Project Seahorse-led analysis informed the debate on whether exports of a number of shark and ray species should be controlled. In the end, five new shark species – the oceanic white tip, three hammerheads, and the porbeagle – were protected along with the manta rays. 

“It was a major victory, moving us toward the more sustainable use of marine species and paving the way for more protections and better management. But we can’t be complacent. There will always be resistance to international regulations, so we must continue to support CITES and build on hard-won victories like this one,” says Dr. Yvonne Sadovy, one of the paper’s co-authors.


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