The Conference of the Parties to CITES (the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) took place in Johannesburg, South Africa in late September and early October.
Several conservation victories arose from the global wildlife summit, including a complete ban on international trade in pangolins, African grey parrots and Barbary macaques, as well as new protections for thresher sharks and devil rays.
“This is a big win for all these species of sharks and rays as governments around the world will now have to act to ensure that trade is from sustainable and legal fisheries,” said Andy Cornish of the WWF.
Nine devil rays, three thresher sharks, and the silky shark were proposed by various
countries for listing under CITES Appendix II, which obligates Parties to put in place international trade restrictions to ensure exports are sustainable and legal. These interventions reflected a growing recognition of the role CITES can play in shark and ray conservation by enhancing data, improving management, and perhaps leading to sustainable international trade.
A senior research fellow at the University of Wollongong in Australia, Glenn Sant, pointed out that traceability systems for trade in seafood goods should be used to ensure not only the quality of products, but also as a tool to demonstrate legality and a species’ origin from a more sustainably managed fishery.
As a result, it is fundamental to the effective operation of CITES to support the system of permits and certificates required for listed species
since the Parties are required to maintain records of international trade and provide the Secretariat with annual trade reports.
CITES Parties now have six months to implement the new international trade obligations for devil rays, and one year to do the same for silky and thresher sharks.
First published in Jan/Feb 2017