Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Committee I Discusses Sharks

Guest Blog
by Onon Bayasgalan

As of this morning, I became a member of the Mongolian delegation! Sitting by Monaco, Mexico and other neighboring countries while listening to the discussion truly brought the world into one room.

Day three of the CITES negotiations, and the momentum has only been picking up speed. Delegates and NGO members have been coming to our Shark Stanley booth with increasing interest. This morning, I attended the Committee I meeting while they discussed the Animal Committee's Report on sharks and stingrays.

Although nuanced, the different interests and positions taken by different countries were easily evident from the interventions that were made. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) all made comments regarding their positions. One of the opinions that were echoed across the board was that scientific research on sharks and stingrays should be strongly supported and encouraged.

After an hour long discussion on some of the contents on the report, it was approved with a few alterations made primarily by New Zealand and China.

Shark Stanley has only been growing in popularity among the CITES community. Many visitors have been returning to our booth to follow up on him and to check in on our progress. One of the most fun and interactive tasks that we assign to our delegates is to have them identify their own country from the sea of collages that decorate our booth. One can only imagine how much children would have enjoyed looking for their countries based on their national flags.

One of the best aspects of our campaign is that it is very organic-- nothing is forced or contrived. People have been very genuinely interested in our four different characteristics, which are simplified versions of the true beauty that is embodied in the animals in real life. I am not a marine biologist, nor a scuba diver, but my interactions with the scientists who have come to represent these animals, and the images and videos I have seen thus far, have given me an inkling of the level of veneration and appreciation they must have for these animals. I may be extrapolating too far, but I can sense there is a spiritual layer to the connection that we humans can have with sharks and manta rays.

Onon Bayasgalan is a masters student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Shark Stanley Campaign Co-director.

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