Project AWARE is pounding the pavement to make the ocean safer for some of the most overexploited sharks. 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, David Roe, Project AWARE Marine Conservation Officer, attended a meeting in Canberra, Australia, that marked the start of the Australian Government’s preparations for the conference. The Canberra meeting brought together representatives from several Australian Government agencies and leading conservation groups to discuss shark protection actions needed.
David was there to present the 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 their fins, meat and other products drives heavy international trade. The species are particularly vulnerable to overexploitation due to lacking or poor fishery management and their exceptionally low ability to reproduce.
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 in preparation for Cop16 over the course of 2012.