CITES SHARK AND RAY LISTINGS UNDER SPOTLIGHT
Shark and ray listings have come under the spotlight at The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convention of the parties (otherwise known as CoP17) currently being held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
CITES is widely recognised as an effective tool to reduce global trade in endangered species.
Stellenbosch University’s Molecular Breeding and Biodiversity lab in the Department of Genetics has several ongoing shark genetics research projects, including threatened shark species and the CITES-listed hammerhead shark, and as concerned members of the academic and shark scientific community, have expressed their support for inclusion of the thresher shark, silky shark and nine species of mobula ray proposed listings for CITES Appendix II. Inclusion of these species listed on CITES Appendix II would ensure that trade of products of these species, including fins and gill plates, will not be of detriment to wild populations.
Current research at Stellenbosch University on shark species has demonstrated the connectivity of shark populations in different regions and highlights the need for a trans-national approach to the conservation and management of threatened shark and ray species.
In 2015, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Fiji submitted proposal to list silky sharks, three species of thresher sharks and nine mobula ray species of CITES Appendix II. The proposals were put forth in response to scientific evidence of global declines in these species; between 70-99% in some areas.
More than 50 countries have agreed to co-sponsor listing one or more of these shark and rays species, including several African nations.