Today is a turning point for sharks

Oceanic whitetip shark, one of the most threatened sharks. © R. SonntagThere is the International Day of the Dog, the World Oceans Day and the Day of the Porpoise.

As far as we are concerned, September 14 is International Shark Day.

How come? Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) trade restrictions for five of the most endangered shark species and two skate species become effective.

After this day, products derived from those species only will be allowed in trade if they originate from a proven sustainable hunt.

This restriction will force better supervision of the shark trade – and thus better data on the global situation of sharks. Eventually, these shark species shall have the improved protection they so urgently need.  

The resolutions about the trade regulations were passed back in March 2013 at the latest CITES conference in Bangkok, representing an important victory for the protection of some species. Germany, Brazil, Honduras, Egypt and the US had championed for the sharks, while  Japan and China had labored hard against the measures.

We can’t even begin to estimate how the 80 to 90 percent decrease of shark populations will effect the oceans. Research has shown that the disappearance of top-predators changes the marine ecosystem. If the top predators disappear, other predators and herbivores flourish, which can lead to significant decreases, even extinctions, of particular prey animals or certain plants. 

Through numerous trainings and workshops, IFAW has helped to prepare customs officers and fishing authorities for those new regulations, especially in the Arabic countries.

Other organizations have done the same in Latin America, Africa and Oceania.

The UAE have introduced brand new laws to not only implement the new regulations for species protection but also provide a better protection of sharks in general. We do hope that more countries will follow the UAE’s example and introduce similar laws.  

The next step: At the coming Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) conference in Quito, Peru in November 21 proposals for the protection of skates and sharks will be on the table. Until then we are working to convince the member states of the necessity of this protection.

The fact that shark protection has finally been put into motion gives me hope that we can protect sharks for future generations.      


Learn more about IFAW’s political advocacy work to protect endangered species.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Country Representative, Germany
Country Representative, Germany
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy