CITES today overruled objections from countries like Japan, China and India and listed five species of highly traded sharks under the CITES Appendices, along with both manta rays and one species of sawfish. 

Japan, India and Gambia challenged the Committee's desire to list the oceanic whitetip shark, while Grenada and China objected to listing three hammerhead species. 

Proponents of the various listing proposals include the USA, the EU, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, Honduras and Mexico. The shark and ray proposals received more than the two-thirds majority of votes necessary for adoption while the sawfish listing succeeded by consensus. 

The oceanic whitetip shark, porbeagle, three species of hammerheads, and both manta rays – all classified as threatened on the IUCN Red List -- will now be added to CITES Appendix II, which prompts permits to ensure exports are sustainable and legal. The only sharks listed under CITES previous to this meeting – basking, whale, and white sharks – are not taken in the high volumes associated with the newly listed sharks.

The freshwater sawfish will be transferred from Appendix II to I, where all other sawfishes are listed, thereby completing a global ban on international commercial trade in these critically endangered species.

"We are thrilled with this result and the groundswell of government commitment that made it happen," said Amie Brautigam, Marine Policy Advisor for Wildlife Conservation Society. "These hard-fought decisions to secure CITES regulations on international trade in sharks and rays are based on a solid foundation built over two decades, and surmount the long-standing opposition to listing shark species that are taken at a commercial scale."