Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Philippines: Critical to Sharks at CITES

Guest Blog
by Anna Oposa

The support for Shark Stanley from the Philippines has been pouring in since we launched our campaign in late December. This support will not amount to much, however, if it is not communicated to the proper people. The person who will be voting on behalf of our country at the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)  is Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Asis Perez. His contact information is listed on the CITES website:

Atty. Asis G. Perez
Director
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)
Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Building
Elliptical Road corner Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman
1101 QUEZON CITY

Tel: +63 (2) 929 95 97
Fax: +63 (2) 929 80 74
Email: aperez @ bfar.da.gov.ph

My fellow kababayans who want to see sharks protected at CITES should contact Director Perez and ask him to support the proposals to list oceanic whitetip, hammerhead, porbeagle, and manta ray on Appendix II, and to make that support public ahead of the meeting. All four species are already protected by domestic law and it is hard to imagine that we would vote against protecting these species at an international level when they are also protected domestically.

Manta rays are protected by domestic law in the Philippines because of their importance to our economy. There are several places around the country where they can be found, and in each location they create local jobs. Tourists spend money at local dive shops, restaurants, and hotels.

The hammerhead shark is a de facto protected species in the Philippines. When Costa Rica added the species to CITES Appendix III last year, the species simultaneously became protected in our waters. Under the laws of our government, any species that is listed by CITES automatically becomes protected in our country and in our national waters.

The porbeagle shark, although it does not occur in our waters, is also protected in our country for the same reason. The European Union listed the species on CITES Appendix III last year.

The oceanic whitetip shark, while not yet listed on CITES, is a protected species at the Western Central Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Commission, of which we are a member. At their meeting in Guam last year, all of the countries and territories fishing in the Western Central Pacific Ocean agreed that this species met the scientific criteria for protections and banned all fishing.

I encourage you to contact Director Perez and ask him to support the four proposals to protect sharks and manta rays at CITES, and to make his support public ahead of the CITES meeting which starts on March 3. American President Barack Obama recently announced his country’s support for all four proposals and the Philippines should do the same.

Anna Oposa is the Chief Mermaid and Co-Founder of Save Philippine Seas

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