Seven species of vulnerable sharks and manta rays have now been submitted by 35 countries for consideration for protection next year under an international treaty concerned with regulating wildlife trade.

Governments met the deadline today and formally submitted their proposals for the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in March 2013. The recommendations include porbeagle and oceanic whitetip sharks, three species of hammerhead sharks, and two types of manta rays. For nearly 40 years, CITES has shielded thousands of plants and animals from overexploitation through international trade, and the treaty is widely considered one of the best-enforced international conservation agreements.

"We congratulate the governments of Brazil, Comoros, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, the member States of the European Union and Honduras for their leadership and commitment to shark conservation, and urge the global community to join their call to finally provide critical international trade protection for these vulnerable shark species," said Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group.

The 176 members of CITES will analyze these proposals before a final vote in Bangkok in March 2013.

"Countries cannot continue to watch as these sharks and rays are driven to the brink of extinction; measures need to be put in place now to regulate international trade in these species," said Elizabeth Wilson, manager of shark conservation at the Pew Environment Group. "This is not just about sharks; it's about keeping the world's oceans healthy. CITES has the chance in Bangkok to help save these species."

The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a nongovernmental organization that works globally to establish pragmatic, science-based policies that protect our oceans, preserve our wildlands, and promote clean energy.