CITES is the acronym for the “Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.” This treaty, comprised of 178 countries, was created in response to a resolution drafted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Appropriate Appendix levels for proposed species are decided at the Conference of the Parties (CoP), held approximately every three years. At this meeting, flora and fauna can be added to Appendices, promoted, demoted or deleted. The category in which the species is placed will determine the international protection it is afforded.
The 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES is in progress right now in Bangkok, Thailand, from March 3-14. Of particular interest for Sea Save Foundation is the proposal to add Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks, Great Hammerhead Sharks, Porbeagle Sharks and Manta Rays to CITES Appendix II. This would simultaneously afford greater attention and protection to these species and would allow scientists to collect more reliable data about shark numbers and dispersal.
Current arguments against this proposal include the following: a) the collected data does not make a compelling argument, and b) it would be too difficult for customs officials to differentiate fins from protected species vs non-protected species. These queries have been clearly addressed by scientists on site.