Manta ray. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
Govt to support restrictions on trade of manta rays, sharks
Monday, January 28, 2013, 22:50 (GMT + 9)
The US will support proposals to restrict the unsustainable levels of international trade on manta rays and five shark species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), at a March conference in Bangkok, Thailand, US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe announced.
Populations of the five shark species – porbeagle, scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, and oceanic whitetip – are declining because of demand for fins for food products such as soup and medicine, while manta rays are being overharvested to meet demand for their gill plates.
“For several decades, we have been increasingly concerned about the overharvest of sharks and manta rays,” said Ashe, who is heading the US delegation to the treaty’s 16th Conference of the Parties in Bangkok. “We believe that CITES is a valuable tool to address the threats posed by unsustainable global trade in shark fins and other marine species and their parts and products.”
The US is co-sponsoring with Colombia and Brazil a proposal to list oceanic whitetip shark in Appendix II, and will support proposals by other countries to protect manta rays and the other four shark species. If approved by two-thirds vote of CITES member nations, the listings will increase protection but still allow legal and sustainable trade in the five shark species and all manta rays.
Ashe made the announcement at a meeting of representatives from CITES member nations, including small island States in the Pacific and Caribbean and some key African countries, who met at the United Nations to discuss the proposals in advance of the March conference. The meeting was hosted by the US, Germany and Honduras and supported by the Pew Environment Group.
“Sharks and manta rays are extremely important to the ocean ecosystems,” said Sam Rauch, acting Assistant Administrator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries. “The global protection that CITES offers to these incredible species will complement shark measures that have been adopted regionally, and will help ensure their survival.