If you follow conservation news, you’ve probably heard about the conference happening in Bangkok from the 3rd of March to the 14th, called the CITES Conference of the Parties. If you need to get up to date, here are ten facts about CITES, and its importance for sharks:
- CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international trade agreement designed to protect vulnerable animal and plant species. It works to set restrictions on the trade of individual species at risk for being overexploited.
- The strongest type of restriction is an Appendix I listing. This listing means that a species is considered threatened with extinction in the wild, and is banned from international trade.
- An Appendix II listing doesn’t indicate that a species is threatened with extinction, but it may become so if trade continues unregulated.
- To trade a species listed under Appendix II, the trader must obtain an export permit, which is granted by a national government if the species is “legally obtained and if the export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species.”
- For sea creatures like sharks, the export permit is managed by the nation where the animal is being imported.
- There is another listing, Appendix III, used if a CITES member country asks other countries for help controlling the trade of a species, even if a species isn’t threatened globally. These species also require an export permit.
- To list a species in a CITES appendix, a country proposes to amend the appendix at a conference (like the one going on now). The amendments are voted on, and decisions are based off of “biological and trade criteria”.
- There are three shark species that currently have a CITES listing. They are the great white shark, the whale shark, and the basking shark. All are listed under Appendix II.
- There are five sharks proposed for Appendix II at this year’s conference: the oceanic whitetip shark, the porbeagle shark, and three species of hammerheads (scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, and smooth hammerhead).
- Recent research shows that sharks are being fished at a rate that their populations cannot recover from without intervention.
As the CITES conference unfolds, we’ll keep you updated with the outcomes of these five proposed species, and the reasoning behind the conference’s decisions.