May Sharks Roam Widely, Safely and Freely in the Arabian Waters

May Sharks Roam Widely, Safely and Freely in the Arabian Waters
Tuesday, 18 February, 2014
Dubai, UAE

Nine Arabian countries today declared their commitment towards shark conservation by signing the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks (Sharks MOU) in Dubai, UAE. This global treaty was concluded under the UNEP Convention on Migratory Species (UNEP/CMS).

UAE, Comoros, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Mauritania, Sudan, Syria and Yemen are the first Arabian countries, to sign the MOU, joining 27 existing signatories.

IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare - and UNEP/CMS Secretariat applaud the historic achievement by Arabian countries to conserve sharks in their waters.

“Nine countries signing together sends a very strong, important signal to others in the world to follow the good example” said Peter Pueschel, IFAW’s Director of International Environmental Agreements.

“We welcome the commitment of the new signatories that will help catalyse regional initiatives to reduce threats to migratory sharks.” Said Bradnee Chambers, CMS Secretariat’s Executive Secretary”

“The nine new signatories are committing to improve and maintain a favourable conservation status for migratory sharks.” added Bradnee.

In line with the signing, more than 65 frontline officials from Arabian countries are attending a training workshop on the prevention of shark and other marine species trafficking in the UAE, February 17-19, 2014.

The training is being conducted under the umbrella of the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water in collaboration with IFAW. It was kindly sponsored by IFAW and the UNEP/CMS Secretariat with funding from the European Commission.

Attendees are representing marine and fisheries authorities, customs, municipalities, CITES management and scientific authorities and fisherman societies. Officials are from UAE, Comoros, Egypt, Jordan, KSA, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
Sharks are exploited for their highly valued fins, teeth and jaws. The demand for shark fin soup drives the cruel practice of “finning” in which a shark’s fins are cut off and the animal is thrown back into the water, often alive.

“Many sharks play a vital ecological role as top predators in the marine environment. The national waters of the countries in this region are vital to many shark species as feeding and breeding areas.” added Andrea Pauly.

“Sharks and other marine life are heavily depleted due to overexploitation, habitat deterioration and climate change,” continues Peter Pueschel. “Some species may have declined by as much as 80% in the past decade.”

The training builds the capacity for front line officials to crack down on the illegal trade in sharks and other marine species. By strengthening their knowledge and skills, they are better equipped to implement this through national and international regulations.

Throughout the three-days, participants will learn about the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the Convention’s provisions for the conservation of migratory sharks that are protected under CMS.

They will also learn about the CITES convention and its legal requirements with regard to species that are under protection by the Convention. The identification of shark and manta ray products in international trade will be looked at as well as an exercise on identifying shark species by their fins.

The workshop will cover the biology of sharks and why they are so vulnerable to over-exploitation due to their slow growth, late maturation and low birth rate.

Oceanic whitetip sharks, three species of hammerhead sharks, porbeagle sharks and  manta rays  were listed in Appendix II at the 16th meeting of the parties of CITES. The CITES regulations on sharks and manta rays will come into force on 14 September 2014.

“CITES has to regulate and control any international trade in sharks to levels which are not detrimental to the species survival” Peter Püschel added.

He continues “To date, the CMS Sharks MOU is the only global instrument specifically designed for the conservation of migratory species of sharks. It is obvious that their survival can only be ensured through international cooperation under common conservation objectives.”

IFAW advocates and supports common objectives to re-establish and maintain sustainable conservation status for migratory sharks and to eliminate cruel fishing practices.

The training is part of a worldwide capacity building initiative of IFAW that trains law enforcement officers to prevent wildlife trafficking in several countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania and the Caribbean. To date, more than 2,300 government representatives at the forefront have been trained since 2006.

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About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals 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 Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About CMS (the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals)
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) aims to conserve terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range.  It is an Intergovernmental Treaty, concluded under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which is concerned with the conservation of migratory species and their  habitats on a global scale.  CMS acts as a framework Convention that encourages Range States to develop regional or global agreements covering single or groups of migratory species.  The Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks (Sharks MOU) which was concluded under the auspices of CMS in 2010 is the only global agreement dedicated to the conservation of migratory sharks.

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