Reduc­ing shark and ray mortality

Inter­na­tion­al Fund for Ani­mal Welfare

Latin Amer­i­ca is a sig­nif­i­cant trad­er in shark prod­ucts, export­ing much of the fins caught in the region to the provinces of Hong Kong and Tai­wan, while import­ing meat prod­ucts from the Euro­pean Union. In the CITES CoP19 meet­ing, held in Novem­ber 2022, Pana­ma sub­mit­ted the shark pro­pos­al with a high num­ber of cospon­sors (41), includ­ing the EU’s 27 votes, which was adopt­ed with a resound­ing majority. 

With the adop­tion of the new reg­u­la­tions, the major­i­ty of the trade in shark prod­ucts needs to be sus­tain­ably and legal­ly sourced for the very first time. The trans­for­ma­tion of reg­u­la­tions of the glob­al shark trade will be a heavy lift for gov­ern­ments, and sig­nif­i­cant efforts are need­ed to ensure these new list­ings are suc­cess­ful­ly and effec­tive­ly imple­ment­ed in a way that results in real-world mor­tal­i­ty reduc­tions for endan­gered species. Latin Amer­i­can gov­ern­ments are start­ing to enact bet­ter man­age­ment, large­ly as a result of exist­ing CITES list­ings, but they are at times poor­ly enforced and often have loop­holes that allow catch and trade in endan­gered species to continue. 

This project will use the Novem­ber 2022 CITES list­ings as lever­age to close these loop­holes, cap trade to sus­tain­able lev­els and ensure pro­hi­bi­tion of catch/​trade in the most endan­gered shark and ray species, result­ing in real-world mor­tal­i­ty reduc­tions for shark and ray species in Colom­bia, Ecuador, and Panama.

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