Spotlight on the endangered Silky and Thresher sharks at CITES 2016

Since its inception in 1980, September World Tourism Month has been a time to bring major issues facing the global tourism industry to the foreground. There are a great number of national and international conferences and meetings taking place worldwide this month including The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or CITES, as it is more commonly known. This year’s convention is of interest to African Shark Eco-Charters because they are placing spotlight on the Silky Shark and the Thresher shark, two species of shark under threat of extinction. This year’s convention is set to take place at the Sandton Convention Centre ‎in Johannesburg from the 24th of September to the 5th of October.

CITES resulted from intergovernmental agreements to ensure that the billion dollar international trade of various species of animal and plant life does not threaten their existence. Given the well-known fact that there are near endless lists of endangered flora and fauna, one must remember that the conservation and reservation are fairly recent concepts that the world is only now coming to grips with much like global warming. It is a constant game of catch-up.

“Levels of exploitation of some animal and plant species are high and the trade in them, together with other factors, such as habitat loss, is capable of heavily depleting their populations and even bringing some species close to extinction. Many wildlife species in trade are not endangered, but the existence of an agreement to ensure the sustainability of the trade is important in order to safeguard these resources for the future.”-Cites.org

Both the Silky and Thresher shark will be considered for Appendix 1 (threatened with extinction therefore illegal for trade) status. “The Appendix that lists a species or population reflects the extent of the threat to it and the controls that apply to the trade”.

Both species are on the Appendix 2 list which means they are at risk species with trade and management are under (some) regulation. They are largely exploited by humans for recreational fishing and consumption which is the biggest contributor to the great drop in their numbers. The aspect of consumption is still so surprising considering the high risks to human health.

 

The status of the Silky shark was highlighted at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress which took place in Hawai’i earlier this month, while in the Philippines, officials from various organisations including Greenpeace launched a petition last week to include Thresher sharks, often spotted off their coasts, on a list of the world’s endangered species.

 

All of this places greater significance on the proposed considerations because once a species becomes CITES-listed it is immediately protected.

“CITES regulates international trade in over 35,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives.. The CITES permit system seeks to ensure that international trade in listed species is sustainable, legal and traceable.”

It will be interesting to find out how the representatives vote on the issues. We are certainly routing for our Silky and Thresher friends.

Sources:

Convention On International Trade In Endangered Species Of Wild Fauna And Flora (CITES), consideration of proposals for amendment of appendices i and ii, CoP17 Prop. 42 and 43

 

https://cites.org/eng/news/pr/countdown_begins_for_the_2016_world_wildlife_conference

https://cites.org/eng/news/pr/cites_cop17_venue_dates_south_africa_2016

https://www.fws.gov/international/cites/cop17/spotlight-on-species.html

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/09/08/18790975.php

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/local-news/2016/09/17/petition-out-protect-thresher-sharks-498154

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CITES

Appendices:

Figure 1: Silky shark

Figure 2: Thresher shark