Press Release

Future of Endangered Shark and Ray Species Under Debate at CITES CoP18

Geneva, Switzerland — Aug 19 2019

Vulcan-led coalition generates unprecedented support to protect more sharks & rays

The future survival of 18 shark and ray species will be debated during the 18th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference of the Parties (CoP) from August 17 to 28 in Geneva, Switzerland.

An unprecendented number of governments are in support of new protections for 18 shark and ray species, whose populations are threatened by international trade. However, two-thirds of governent leaders in attendance must vote in favor for the proposed policies to take effect.

A coalition of organizations have joined to support these proposals at the upcoming 18th CITES Conference of the Parties. The coalition includes Florida International University (FIU), Human Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), The Pew Chariable Trusts, and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), with funding and management from Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Inc. and Shark Conservation Fund (SCF).

"This meeting likely marks our last chance to initiate the global momentum needed to save these sharks and rays before they are lost forever," said Luke Warwidk, Director of Shark and Ray Conservation at Wildlife Conservation Society representing the coalition of partners. "We are excited by the unprecedented support for these measures that, if adopted, can drive efforts to bring the unsustainable global trade in shark fins and meat under control."

The propsed CITES Appendix II trade protection for 18 species of sharks and rays, includes six species of giant guitarfishes, 10 species of wedgefishes and two species of mako sharks—a record number of sharks and rays for any CoP. There is some optimism circulated among the shark conservation community with more than 60 governments already pledging formal support for these proposals.

Approximately 31 percent of shark and ray species are recognized as threatened with extinction and an estimated 100 million sharks are killed annually. The demand for their fins, meat, liver oil and other products continues to drive population declines worldwide. Approximately 17 percent of the international shark fin trade is regulated, leaving some of the most threatened shark and ray species unlisted and with little management wherever they are found.

"CITES listings will control and limit this deeply unsustainable global trade in fins and meat and will have the strong impact needed to protect these species," said Warwick. "If we don't act now, we will lose these animals and the unique and critical role they play in marine ecosystems."


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About the Coalition:
The shark and ray proposals for the upcoming CoP18 are supported by the following coalition:


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