41 marine scientists sign open letter criticizing CITES for abject failure in protecting sharks

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In a recently released open letter to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (seen by many as protecting unstainable shark harvesting in that region), 41 marine researchers – including leading elasmobranch biologists Gregor Cailllet, Jeffrey Carrier, Michael L Domeier and John Stevens – sharply criticize CITES and other institutions for failing to protect declining shark populations.

Among their criticisms:

– Despite meeting the scientific criteria for listing, numerous shark species have been denied CITES protection because politics prevented them from receiving the two-thirds of the votes necessary for a CITES listing. 

– CITES tends to lag behind domestic and regional management bodies because of the two-thirds majority requirement and should not therefore be used as the benchmark for whether a species is under threat.

– The UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) does not adequately protect endangered shark species. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists 82 species of sharks on its Red List of Threatened Species as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. Yet, CITES regulates trade of just three of these threatened shark species.

The full letter can be found here.

Murray W. Camp/MASNA ILOC Rep.