|Elizabeth Wilson of the Pew Charitable Trusts, Randall Arauz of PRETOMA, Shawn Heinrichs of WildAid, Eduardo Espinosa of Ecuador, and Dr. Fabio Hazin of Brazil with Shark Stanley at CITES.|
by Randall Arauz
With the listing of hammerhead sharks in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) during the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (CoP16) held from March 4th -14th in Bangkok, Thailand, the world expressed the urgent need to protect this species from the threat posed by the international trade of its products, particularly fins, which are highly prized to prepare shark fin soup in Asia.
The latest scientific information available indicates that up to 100 million sharks are killed each year to meet the demand of the international market, which has led to a 90-95% demise of global hammerhead shark populations. The need for action is compelling.
Costa Rica, along with Honduras and Brazil, proposed the inclusion of hammerhead sharks in Appendix II of CITES, hoping to finally interrupt this unsustainable extraction of sharks, which has been denounced for decades but for which no effective measures have been taken in a regional, or even less, a global context.
It must be pointed out that the listing of hammerhead sharks in Appendix II does not mean that a total ban on the international trade of the species will be installed, but rather guarantees through the issuing of a “Non Detriment Finding” by the exporting country that the extraction of specimens from the wild population was done in a sustainable manner. Failure to do so translates into economic sanctions.
This of course, directly interferes with the current unsustainable extraction of sharks, something that the Asian block of nations, led by Japan and China, weren’t about to allow.
Lacking any technical arguments, they claimed before the delegates of the world that this measure would not only be too difficult to implement, but it would also have adverse effects on artisanal fisheries in developing countries. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Is Cites meant to work only when implementations measures are easy?
In addition, artisanal fishers are not affected by Cites any way whatsoever, as they trade mainly juvenile sharks in domestic markets. In any case, if anything at all they benefitted by the measure, as it guarantees the sustainable exploitation of adults in the high seas.
Reprinted with permission by Randall Arauz of PRETOMA