Important Day for Sharks as New Protection Measures go into Action

Important Day for Sharks as New Protection  Measures go into Action
Sunday, 14 September, 2014
Hamburg, Germany

Conservationists have called for 14th September to be declared World Shark Day, as a landmark decision to better protect sharks goes into action today.

It is estimated that up to 100-million sharks are killed each year for the voracious shark fin trade that supports the luxury soup trade in the Far East, while others like the porbeagle shark have been hunted to the point of being “critically endangered in the North East Atlantic” for consumption on European dinner tables.

Dr Ralf Sonntag, IFAW shark expert and Director of IFAW Germany (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org), said: “Shark species are declining all over the world. They are extremely slow breeders and for some species even very low levels of fishing endangers the viability of populations, to the extent that numbers of certain populations have decreased by as much as 80 and 90 per cent.

According to the IUCN 74 species of sharks and 107 species of rays are considered to be threatened.  Vigorous enforcement of the new regulations and an end of the shark finning on the high seas, would be an important first step to give certain species of sharks the opportunity to recover from unsustainable fishing practices.

“Creating a special day for sharks, much as has been done so successfully for threatened land-based species like elephants and rhinoceros, will highlight the scale of danger to these remarkable creatures,” said Dr Sonntag.

“Sharks should be revered, not reviled. Protecting marine species like shark is good for coastal communities which can benefit from the tourism based on sharks and from a healthier ecosystem.”

In March 2013, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), announced it would list five commercially profitable shark species (three hammerheads, Oceanic white tip and Porbeagle) as well as both Manta rays, on Appendix II of CITES meaning all are threatened (either vulnerable or endangered). Implementing the new measures to protect sharks was delayed by 18 months to allow countries to adapt legislation if necessary. So far only basking sharks, whale sharks and great white sharks were listed by CITES.

From today, 14 September 2014, authorities will be compelled to ensure that traded sharks are either not listed on CITES or in the case of listed species, to ensure that only certified sustainably caught specimens are traded.

IFAW has supported training and shark conservation workshops to train customs and fishing authorities – particularly in the Middle East – in how to implement the new Appendix II listings.

Peter Pueschel, IFAW Director for International Environmental Agreements, said the onus now lay with countries to exact a rigorous oversight of the shark fishing industry

“This new demand by CITES that countries better manage their fishing industries, will help a much more sustainable utilization of sharks, their parts and products – at least in those countries and regions that comply to the new listings. We strongly commend the UAE for the new legislation, they just passed which will not only enforce the new CITES decisions but also better protect sharks in general. We would hope that many countries will follow this good example. It is an important day for sharks.”

Ends

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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