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Conservationists Urge Increased Protections of Silky Sharks at International Meeting

For Immediate Release

CONTACT:
Joanna McWilliams
Communications Director
Turtle Island Restoration Network
Cell: (415) 488-7711
joanna@tirn.net

Regina Domingo
Nakawe Project
info@nakaweproject.org
506-85385782

Randall Arauz
International Policy Director
Turtle Island Restoration Network (Costa Rica)
Cell:  (506) 8344-3711
rarauz@tirn.net

Conservationists Urge Increased Protections of Silky Sharks at International Meeting

A CITES Appendix II Listing Could Reduce Overfishing of the Species

San Francisco (July 25, 2016) –  Turtle Island Restoration Network and partner organizations are calling on the delegates at an upcoming global conservation meeting to take action to reduce the killing of silky sharks. These sharks are targeted for their valuable fins, and are in dire need of greater protections.

Conservationist are looking at the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting, which takes place from September 26 – October 6, in Johannesburg, South Africa as an opportunity to safeguard these open-ocean sharks.

“Silky sharks are in severe trouble and we need to rein in the fisheries that catch them,” said Randall Arauz, International Policy Director of Turtle Island Restoration Network and 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize Winner.  “Measures to protect silky sharks from fishing would protect an array of other endangered marine species, including sea turtles, rays, marlin, and hammerhead sharks. When we protect silky sharks, we protect the oceans.”

In particular, conservationists are supporting a proposal from the Maldives to list the silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) under Appendix II of CITES. Listing a species provides it with special protections globally. In the case of the silky shark, fishing nations would need to provide scientific evidence on the sustainability of their extraction for export. If that information is not provided, then the international trade of the species is barred.

Silky sharks are the most common shark caught incidentally by tuna longline and purse seine fisheries throughout their range, particularly those using fish aggregating devices. Silky sharks are the most-caught species in longline fisheries in the Eastern Pacific, constituting up to 90 percent of the total catch of sharks. The species ranks 2nd or 3rd in Hong Kong shark fin markets.  Silky sharks are classified as ‘near threatened’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  In the Central and Eastern Tropical Pacific silky sharks are even more endangered and classified as ’vulnerable.’ Whilst the capture and retention of this species is banned in the Atlantic by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), its catches in the Pacific remain unencumbered.

“Silky sharks caught by longline fisheries in the Eastern Pacific supply the Asian shark fin market. Demand for fins had decimated once healthy populations,” said Regina Domingo, consultant with the Costa Rican organization PRETOMA and founding member of Nakawe Project, Spain. “We hereby call on citizens from all Central American nations to sign our petition to the Presidents of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador, asking them to support the proposal to list silky sharks under Appendix II of CITES, and provide the species with the protection it deserves and urgently needs.”

Conservationists are also supporting proposals to list thresher sharks and mobula rays under Appendix II of CITES.

Background Information on CITES & Proposal Support:

Countries that support a silky shark listing under Appendix II:  Bahamas, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, the Comoros, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, the European Union, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Maldives, Mauritania, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Ukraine.

Countries that support a thresher shark listing under Appendix II of CITES: Bahamas, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, the Comoros, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, the European Union, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Maldives, Mauritania, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Ukraine.

Countries that support a mobula ray listing under Appendix II of CITES: Bahamas, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, the Comoros, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, the European Union, Fiji, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Maldives, Mauritania, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and the United States of America.

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.  Currently CITES is comprised of 184 members.

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Turtle Island Restoration Network works to mobilize people and communities around the world to protect marine wildlife, the oceans and the inland waterways that sustain them. Join us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. SeaTurtles.org