Project Seahorse informs CITES decision on trade regulation for sharks and rays

An international team of researchers led by Project Seahorse’s Dr. Amanda Vincent this week released a paper that could drive new trade protections for five species of sharks and for manta rays. 

(Downloads: Full paper | executive summary | in Spanish | in French)

Efforts to regulate exports of sharks through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) have been under way since 1994. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year.

The paper, an analysis of CITES’s mandate over marine species, has been submitted by the U.S. delegation and rigorously responds to the worries that CITES member countries raise about regulating trade in marine fishes . The first vote to include sharks in CITES will probably take place in committee on March 8 (Bangkok time), and it’s likely to be voted again on March 15.

(Full coverage of the CITES meeting is available here.)

CITES regulates exports of very few marine fishes, by placing them on a list called Appendix II.  This is where UBC’s Project Seahorse successfully effected the listing of seahorses in 2002 — the first such listing for marine fishes in 26 years. Two species of sharks soon followed.  In the subsequent ten years, however, only two more species have been listed, along with all the sawfishes.

CITES is the only international organization with the ability to enforce export controls. A CITES Appendix listing means that all 178 member countries of CITES must guarantee that any exports are sustainable and are caught legally.

The full paper is now in press in the peer-reviewed journal Fish and Fisheries. It can be found here

Executive summary

Spanish translation:

French translation: