Protecting sharks from overfishing is one of Project AWARE’s main objectives, and one of the best ways to achieve this is for key shark species to be listed under CITES. We have less than a year to secure international trade protections for sharks at the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CITES CoP16) to be held in March 2013, Thailand.
Recently, I attended a meeting in Canberra, Australia, that marked the start of the Australian Government’s preparations for CITES CoP16. The Canberra meeting brought together representatives from several Australian Government agencies and leading conservation groups to discuss Australia's role in gaining more protection for sharks.
I was there to present Project AWARE’s case for Australia to propose or support proposals for CITES protections for hammerheads, oceanic whitetip, spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks, as well as devil rays including manta rays. Persistent demand for fins, meat and other products drives heavy international trade in these species. These species are also particularly vulnerable to overexploitation due to lacking or poor fishery management and their exceptionally slow rates of reproduction.
The next step in Australia is for Project AWARE to submit a written listing proposal to the Australian Government showing why it should support proposals to list these sharks and rays. We are also in the middle of the CITES public consultation process in the US and in the UK. We aim to build support for shark species listing with CITES representatives in these and other countries over the course of 2012 in preparation for CoP16.
Ongoing work to protect sharks globally would not be possible without your support. Thank you to the nearly 100,000 divers who have signed the Give Sharks a Fighting Chance petition so far. You can help gather more support for sharks by asking all your friends to add their name. Read more about Project AWARE's CITES work here.