Last Thursday, 7th March at a reception dedicated to sharks at the Retro Café, Bangkok, Project AWARE welcomed CITES country delegations and turned over more than 135,000 shark petition signatures from scuba divers and shark supporters in more than 228 countries, territories and areas of special interest.
Delegates from Australia, the EU and the United States, which included the three largest signatory countries (US, the UK and Australia) accepted the signatures from Project AWARE’s Executive Director, Alex Earl.
“Without critical protections, these animals will face extinction. Project AWARE’s petition represents shark and ray support from 228 countries around the world. We’re urging Parties to CITES to vote ‘yes’ for sharks and rays and provide them with the trade protections they deserve,” said Alex Earl.
Eight species of sharks and rays - the freshwater sawfish, oceanic whitetip shark, porbeagle, three species of hammerheads, and the two manta species - are proposed for listing under CITES at CoP16.
The petition expresses outrage at the result of the last CITES CoP15 in 2010 which failed to protect eight vulnerable shark species, despite scientific advice. As international trade plays a central role in the overfishing of sharks, CITES protection is an integral component in their survival, together with strong and enforceable fisheries management.
It was also emphasized that the annual, global revenue from shark and ray related diving tourism is over US$314 million. Healthy shark and ray populations support this tourism, which in some coastal communities, territories and and states around the world, underpins entire economies.
Photo: Petition handover to the official delegates from the Australia, the EU and the United States at the CITES CoP16 Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, March 7, 2013.
From left to right: Mr. Bryan Arroyo, US Head of Delegation; Mr. Frans Ariis, Belgium Delegation; Ms. Deb Callister, Australia Head of Delegation; Mr. Jaime Rendell, UK Delegation; Mr. Eamonn Kelly, Irish Presidency; Dr. Elsa Nickel, Head of German Delegation; Mr. Gerhard Adams, German Delegation.