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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Malibu Group Campaigns for Sharks at CITES

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Members of the Malibu-based ocean advocacy organization Sea Save Foundation recently participated in CITES—Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international agreement between governments, which convenes every three years to attempt to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
The conference took place in Thailand earlier this month and resulted in a landmark victory for sharks and manta rays.
The oceanic whitetip shark; three species of hammerhead shark-scalloped, smooth and great; the porbeagle shark; and the manta ray were added to Appendix II of the CITES treaty.
While the decision does not ban or restrict trade in these species, all 178 treaty countries will now be obligated to regulate and monitor international trade.
This was Sea Save’s first time at CITES, Sea Save founder Georgienne Bradley told the Malibu Surfside News. “We were invited to accompany the U.S. delegation,” Bradley said.
“There was a lot of debate but the science was sound. The agreement is due to be ratified on Thursday. It’s a real victory for sharks and manta rays.”
Bradley said that an estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year for their fins, which command high prices in China where they are the key ingredient in shark fin soup, a luxury increasingly in demand with China’s emerging middle class.
 “[Sharks] are being hunting to extinction to meet the demand for shark fins,” Bradley said. “Germany has been trying for nine years—three sessions of CITES to get the porbeagle shark on the list.”
“It’s putting unsustainable pressure on shark species,” she said. We’ve had a significant loss of marine megafauna. This is important. It’s critical international legislation that will raise awareness, as well as change international law to protect these species.”
Bradley added that Interpol and other international and national authorities will monitor any international trade.  Populations will be carefully studied and sanctions will be applied.
Bradley said that the celebratory mood following the CITES decision is tempered by the fact that sharks will continue to face increasing pressure from over fishing as long as the demand for shark fins continues to grow.
More information on the Sea Save Foundation is available at www.seasave.org. The new additions to CITES can be found at www.cites.org

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