Good shark and ray conservation news

This video is called Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Shark Biology.

From Wildlife Extra:

Five new species of shark and two manta ray species now protected under CITES

Protection begins this week for five more shark species and two manta ray species designated under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that was agreed at a conference of 178 governments in Bangkok in March 2013.

There were a number of technical issues associated with the listing, such as enforcement agencies learning how to identify products in trade, especially the fins that are usually traded in dried form, and so the Parties were given an 18- month period to prepare for the introduction of CITES requirements.

Any trade in oceanic white tip shark, porbeagle, scalloped hammerhead shark, smooth hammerhead shark, great hammerhead shark, and manta ray products is now to be restricted via national regulations to “avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.”

Their commercial trade must be strictly regulated and the species can only be exported or taken from national and international waters when the exporting / fishing country certifies they were legally sourced and that the overall level of exports does not threaten the species.

Many shark and both manta ray species have suffered drastic population declines in recent years due to commercial fishing, mainly to feed demand in China.

An estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year, with fins from up to 73 million used for shark fin soup.

Some shark populations have declined by up to 98 per cent in the past 15 years, and nearly one-third of pelagic (those that inhabit the open sea) shark species are considered threatened by the IUCN’s Red List.

Secretary-General of CITES, John E Scanlon said: “Regulating international trade in these shark species is critical to their survival.

“Implementation will involve some challenges to ensure that this trade is legal, sustainable and traceable, and this will include practical issues such as identifying the fins and meat that are in trade.

“But by working together we can and will do it.”

Work is also being done in China to reduce the demand for these endangered marine animals, spearheaded by conservation charity WildAid in conjunction with Shark Savers, the Manta Trust and SOS – Save Our Species.

The manta effort kicks off this month with 100 billboards throughout Guangzhou, with the message “eating Peng Yu Sai [the Chinese name for manta products] leads to species extinction”. It will soon also include a new video to be broadcast on Chinese television.

Guangdong TV, a Cantonese language network, has produced a five-part segment for the news about the conservation issues facing manta and mobula, as well as the risks to public health as the gills from manta and mobula are being falsely marketed as a health tonic.

It takes eight to 10 years for a manta to mature sexually and a female manta may give birth to only one pup every two to five years. Due to this slow reproduction they cannot sustain even modest fishing levels.

WildAid argues that mantas are worth far more alive to local communities than dead. In 2013, the total sale of manta and devil ray gills in Guangzhou was estimated at $30 million, with most of the financial benefit going to the distribution channel rather than fishermen.

In contrast, coastal communities can benefit greatly from sustainable ecotourism around manta ray watching, which attracts more than an estimated US $140 million per year, globally.

8 thoughts on “Good shark and ray conservation news

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