JOHANNESBURG, Oct. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- IFAW has welcomed the decision today by the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP 17) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to give protection to silky sharks, thresher sharks and devil rays by including them in Appendix II. This designation includes species which may become threatened and allows trade only if it is not detrimental to their survival.
"This is an important step forwards to protect silky sharks, thresher sharks and devil rays," says Dr Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa at IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare). "Sharks fins and ray gills are some of the world's most profitable fish commodities, unregulated catches are common, and there are few monitoring and reporting systems in place to track them. A lack of reliable trade data and population statistics leads to a lack of protection measures. This decision will help change that."
About 100 million sharks are caught every year. Studies indicate that some shark species may have declined by as much as 80 per cent in the past decade. The demand for, and monetary value of shark fins, meat and ray gill plates from these species has increased exponentially, resulting in over-exploitation in target fisheries and often under-reported bycatch.
Silky sharks, thresher sharks and devil rays are especially vulnerable to overfishing because they generally grow slowly, mature late and produce few young. Each of these species is internationally traded, has declining wild populations, has limited distribution, and is suffering from habitat degradation, poor management and high global demand for their parts and products.
The proposals were submitted by the Republic of Maldives (silky shark), Sri Lanka (thresher sharks) and Republic of Fiji (devil rays).
For silky sharks, it was agreed by 111 votes in support, 30 votes against and five abstentions.
For thresher sharks, it was agreed by 108 votes in support, 29 votes against and 5 abstentions.
For devil rays, it was agreed by 110 votes in support, 20 votes against and 3 abstentions.
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 www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available at www.ifawimages.com
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SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare