Manta rays are included in the application of these rules. The staggering number of all these aquatic creatures being killed off has threatened their very survival. Sharks are being relentlessly hunted for their fins, as demand for them in Hong Kong and China is responsible for what scientists believe to be close to 100 million killed annually.
An effort that has sought to stop the unregulated trade in the sharks was finally able to gain sufficient enough popularity to be voted in and drive the ban into success. Campaigners have been working hard since the 1990’s, and they didn’t give up. It wasn’t until the Cites meeting in Bangkok in 2013 that finally gave them what they had been requesting for over a decade.
John Scanlon, the Cites Secretary General said, “Regulating international trade in these shark and manta ray species is critical to their survival and is a very tangible way of helping to protect the biodiversity of our oceans. The practical implementation of these listings will involve issues such as determining sustainable export levels, verifying legality, and identifying the fins, gills and meat that are in trade. This may seem challenging, but by working together we can do it and we will do it.”
The porbeagle, three varieties of hammerhead, and the oceanic whitetip will all be elevated to Appendix II of the Cites code, effectively regulating their harvest and sale through permits and certificates. Under these regulations, the sharks and rays that are traded in approximately 180 countries worldwide will not be allowed unless the designated national authority permits it.
Sadly, not all countries have taken part into this noble effort, and have entered their reservations to the Cites on some of the species listed. Canada, Denmark (for Greenland), Guyana, Iceland, Japan and Yemen have all stated they will not adhere to the new rules. Under these new reservations though, they will be only allowed to trade with one another.
The main consumer in this market, China, has not registered a reservation to Cities. Possibly, according to officials from Cites, due to how controversial this issue really is.
(Photo courtesy of Erik Charlton)