The oceanic whitetip may not be as famous as it's great white or whale shark relatives but it could soon gain the same level of protection through its listing on Appendix II of CITES.
The oceanic whitetip is one of several shark and ray species on the table at the 16th meeting of Conference of the Parties to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 3 – 14 March.
Data from the Central Pacific shows this large pelagic shark, found mainly in tropical and sub-tropical waters, suffered a 93 percent population decline between 1995 and 2003. International demand for shark fins is the driving force behind the oceanic whitetip shark mortality. And this shark is known to be one of six shark species frequently found in the global fin trade, including the dominant market of Hong Kong.
The International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the oceanic whitetip shark as Vulnerable globally with Northwest and Western Central Atlantic population considered Endangered. Slow growing and taken primarily as bycatch in pelagic longline and purse seine fisheries that target large tuna and swordfish, the fins of an estimated 220,000-1.2million oceanic whitetip sharks were traded globally in 2000.
Before decisions are made next month, you can help amplify the call to protect these exceptionally vulnerable species:
1.Sign the petition urging CITES member countries to give sharks and rays much needed protections.
2.Send a letter direct to CITES authorities urging them to vote “Yes” for sharks and rays.
Special thanks to Guillermo Munro of www.memuco.org