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Is the Tide Turning in Favor of Sharks?

Image of Hammerhead Shark, Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Project AWARE News

Despite their importance and value, sharks and rays are severely overexploited. Sharks fisheries remain woefully under regulated and overfishing, finning and bycatch continue to threaten the survival of the species. Thankfully, divers are some of sharks’ closest and most influential allies and we’re working together to keep sharks and rays populations healthy.

At the 2nd Meeting of the Signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks (CMS Sharks MoU), which took place in Costa Rica in February, 39 national governments and the European Union unanimously agreed to add 22 species of sharks and rays to the MoU scope, and to accept the applications of six conservation groups including Project AWARE as Cooperating Partners in fulfilling MoU objectives.

This decision significantly increases the number of shark and ray species protected under the CMS Sharks MoU. Project AWARE was there to represent the voice of the dive community and to work with partner NGOs to urge CMS Parties and Non-Party Signatories to take concrete steps that can go a long way toward fulfilling CMS obligations for listed species including:

  • Establishing strict national protections for all devil and manta rays and the five endangered sawfish species fully protected under the MoU
  • Implementing national bans on at sea fin removal and joining forces with other MoU signatories in sponsoring fins attached with no exceptions proposals at relevant RFMOs
  • Adopting national and regional fishing limits for heavily-fished, highly migratory sharks – Mako, Hammerhead, and Thresher sharks.

Migratory sharks and ray travel great distances, often crossing national boundaries, so international cooperation is vital to ensuring their survival. The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) – a global wildlife treaty with more than 120 Parties - is uniquely suited to facilitate such action and we’re grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Signatories as Cooperating Partners under the Sharks MoU.

Stay tuned for more news and call to action in support of our work to protect Sharks and Rays in Peril.

Photo: Hammerhead Shark, Cocos Island, Costa Rica

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