It’s the last substantive day of the CITES conference when we are dealing with new agenda items – tomorrow and the following final day will be the plenary when agenda items will be revisited one last time and final decisions made. But it’s unlikely, though possible, that many changes will be made to the decisions that were taken in committee meetings earlier in the week, writes Dena Cator, IUCN Species Survival Commission Network Support Officer.
Today has been a day of frustration but also relief for Parties and organizations because of the discussions that took place on the shark proposals. Palau and the United States had submitted two proposals to list several species of hammerhead shark and the oceanic whitetip shark on Appendix II, meaning that, if accepted, the species would still be able to be commercially traded but with stricter management measures.
Palau and Sweden (on behalf of the European Committee’s member states) submitted a further two proposals to list the Porbeagle shark and spiny dogfish on Appendix II. Despite these species being considered as eligible for inclusion in Appendix II by both the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the IUCN / TRAFFIC Analyses (although the FAO didn’t recommend spiny dogfish for inclusion in Appendix II), many Parties stated that they felt that management of the species could be undertaken by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) rather than CITES, even though no RFMOs currently deal with any shark species. The proposals for the hammerhead shark, the oceanic whitetip shark and spiny dogfish were rejected even though the votes were close and a simple majority was achieved for many of them, but a two-thirds majority is necessary for a proposal to be passed.
However, the proposal for the Porbeagle shark was accepted by the Parties meaning that it is now on Appendix II and will be managed with the relevant measures through CITES. Many Parties were extremely happy about this outcome, given their belief that CITES should play an important role in managing marine species, and responded to the positive vote with cheers. There was also success for another marine species, the Humphead wrasse, as Indonesia, China and several other Parties agreed at the meeting to strengthen Appendix II measures for the species.