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Countries Propose Global Protection for Rays, Regional Conservation for Sharks

Ocean News

Shark Advocates International is welcoming an unprecedented suite of proposals from Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) to list 21 species of rays and sharks on the CMS Appendices. Two species of hammerheads, all three threshers, and the silky shark have been proposed for CMS Appendix II, which would encourage regional cooperation to conserve shared populations. All five sawfishes, nine devil rays, and the reef manta are proposed for Appendix I & II; Appendix I listing would bring obligations for strict protection.

"We are particularly excited about the potential for CMS to benefit sawfishes, the world's most endangered marine fish," said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International and Deputy Chair of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG). "CMS listing can provide the impetus for urgently needed national protections in many sawfish range states and thereby help prevent extinction of these iconic species."

The IUCN SSG has identified great and scalloped hammerhead sharks as some of the world's most threatened highly migratory sharks; both species are classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. The SSG has also highlighted that all three species in the thresher shark family are considered threatened based on their Red List classification as Vulnerable. Silky sharks are listed as Near Threatened.

Last week, the SSG launched a new Global Conservation Strategy for sawfish.

"With leadership and commitment by Parties and cooperating countries like the United States, CMS holds great promise as an important shark and ray conservation tool," continued Fordham.  "We urge all CMS Parties to support the new shark and ray proposals, and to immediately enact national safeguards for these vulnerable species, especially the sawfishes."


Shark Advocates International is a project of The Ocean Foundation established to advance science-based policies to prevent overexploitation of sharks and rays.

See the IUCN SSGGlobal Conservation Sawfish Strategy and supporting materials here

CMS – a global treaty with 120 Parties -- provides a global platform for conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats. Currently, eight species of sharks and rays, including the giant manta ray, are CMS-listed. The new listing proposals will be considered at the next Conference of the Parties.

Photo Credit David Wackenfelt: Largetooth sawfish Pristis pristis in an aquarium

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