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IUCN Congress 2016

Marine Species Expert Panel Reviews Conservation Successes and Challenges

Ocean News

Honolulu, Hawai’i. September 5 2016: A panel of leading experts in fishes has gathered in the IUCN World Conservation Congress Species Pavilion to discuss the surge of interest in ocean health, and the effect of this surge on conservation successes and challenges. Organized by the IUCN Species Survival Commission Shark Specialist Group, panelists discussed the growing number of marine species assessed under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and how to ensure that threatened species assessments prompt effective conservation action.
“The IUCN Global Marine Species Assessment is tasked with assessing the extinction risk of 20,000 marine species under the Red List,” Dr. Kent Carpenter, Manager of the IUCN Global Marine Species Assessment, commented. “While fishes have historically lagged behind terrestrial animals when it comes to conservation attention, we’re now making great progress in assessing marine species status, developing additional specialist groups, and embarking on new challenges, like using our Red List assessments to support international arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
Dr. Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, a member of IUCN Specialist Groups for both cetaceans and sharks, spoke about a key tool for conserving marine species threatened by trade, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). “For species with global markets, CITES listings can help hold exports and ideally mortality to sustainable levels,” he said. Dr. Notarbartolo di Sciara focused on mobulid rays (manta and devil rays); mantas were listed under CITES Appendix II in 2013 while a proposal to add closely related devil rays will be considered later this month. “The gill plates of mantas and devil rays are sought for the same Chinese market. CITES listing for devil rays could help prevent added pressure on these species, and may also improve implementation of trade controls for mantas,” he noted.
Dr. Mark Stanley Price of the IUCN SSC Sub-Committee for Species Conservation Planning spoke about the planning process for saving species. “Based on the seminal work done around the world to identify threatened species, the IUCN is now leading the way in establishing philosophy, methodologies, and processes for effective, species-specific conservation planning,” he explained. “There is diversity of challenges the species that need conservation planning face, and following standardized best practices – from elephants to sawfishes – is key to our success.”
The IUCN Red List provides a globally-accepted standard that acts as an important tool to prioritize threatened species in need of conservation action. While there has been significant progress in marine species conservation over the past few decades, the panel noted that there are still challenges unique to the marine realm that urgently need solutions. For more information, visit
Media contact: Julia Lawson

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