BANGKOK -- March 14, 2013 -- The following statement was issued today by WCS President and CEO Cristian Samper:
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) today celebrates the decision by an historic, broad group of nations from around the world to list five new sharks, freshwater sawfish, and two manta ray species for protection by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This vote is a first, critical step in working to ensure that international trade does not threaten the survival of commercially valuable shark and ray species, a third of which have been evaluated as threatened or near threatened with extinction with extinction worldwide, and essential for both for conservation and for the livelihoods of local coastal communities. In working toward today's action, WCS has been pleased and fortunate to collaborate with a coalition that includes the German Elasmobranch Society, Humane Society International, Project AWARE, Shark Advocates International, and the Shark Trust, through support from Oceans 5.
We are especially grateful for the instrumental crucial support of western and central African countries, along with nations of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. These nations helped to tip the scales in favor of the sharks and rays. With their support, they will protect three hammerhead shark species, the porbeagle shark, the oceanic whitetip shark, freshwater sawfish, and two manta ray species. After two decades of debate, CITES action shows a new resolve by the global community to promote sustainable shark and ray fisheries with effective international monitoring. We salute this effort and pledge our support and assistance in the implementation of these essential new protections in waters world-wide.