Earlier in the year at a meeting in Bangkok, CITES member states agreed to regulate the trade of five commercially exploited species of sharks. The oceanic whitetip shark, three species of hammerhead sharks (scalloped, smooth, and great), and the porbeagle shark were listed in CITES Appendix II. This means that any international trade in specimens of these species must be accompanied by CITES documents confirming that they have been sustainably and legally harvested. The new listings will come into effect in September 2014.
To assist Latin American and Caribbean countries with implementing the new international trade requirements for these shark species, the government of Brazil, with support from the United States, the CITES Secretariat, and several partner organizations, hosted the “Regional Workshop on Sharks Listed in Appendix II of CITES – Preparing for Implementation.” The regional workshop brought together CITES Management and Scientific authorities and fisheries experts from around the world to discuss tools and strategies available to assist countries with implementing the new international shark trade requirements.
“This workshop is about promoting sustainable use and trade of shark products”, said Dr. Fabio Hazin, professor at the Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. “Shark fisheries are important to many countries represented here today. The fact that so many Latin American and Caribbean countries are present speaks to the commitment of this region to sustainable shark trade. We want these fisheries to be managed responsibly so the shark species can be conserved and be available to everyone and future generations”.
“CITES is working very closely with countries and stakeholders to help ensure that relevant authorities are fully prepared to implement the new shark listings by September 14 2014”, said CITES Secretary-General, John E. Scanlon. “We are most grateful to the Governments of Brazil and the United States for leading this successful regional initiative. It has brought fisheries and CITES authorities together in developing practical tools for regulators, fishers, traders and consumers – all of whom are concerned by the new regulations. We will work with CITES Parties and partners to replicate this exercise in other developing regions of the world.”
Experts covered a range of legal, administrative and scientific topics at the workshop, based on concrete needs previously identified by countries. Specifically, the workshop provided information on and demonstrated the use of tools and techniques that will help advance identification of sharks, improve data collection and data reporting on shark catch in the region, and enhance the tracking of shark specimens in trade. Participants were provided with real-life examples of how CITES is implemented for several currently listed species and demonstrated how a chain of custody can be established to monitor shark products from the point of harvest to the point of export.
The workshop also helped to increase awareness of international measures related to shark conservation and management. Participants identified regional needs and next steps for implementing the CITES shark listings in Latin American and Caribbean countries. Scientific surveys on the status of sharks species, domestic legislation, harmonization of Customs codes for trade in sharks and technology transfer for DNA testing, were among the priorities mentioned. These priority areas are expected to help guide future activities leading up to the September 2014 effective date.
Sustainable shark trade is a global challenge; one that can only be addressed through strong international collaboration. At the end of the workshop, thanks to the discussions that took place, participants identified opportunities for exchanging information, next steps associated with implementing the new shark listings, and discussed tools and ideas for moving forward. “For Colombia it was very useful to hear examples from other countries on how they are managing their shark fisheries and regulating trade”, said Juan Pablo Caldas from the Environment Ministry of Colombia. “Some of the tools discussed here for species identification were really useful to us and we plan to use these back home.”
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