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Let’s talk about sharks…

Photo: ©Rodrigo Friscione
Sharks are on the agenda at the Fifth meeting of the FAO-CITES Expert Advisory Panel, 6-10 June 2016 in Rome, Italy.
Photo: ©Rodrigo Friscione
Recognizing the need for management support for shark and rays, FAO assisted countries through the development of the International Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks.

New shark database launched and FAO-CITES Expert Advisory Panel meets in Rome, 6 - 10 June 2016

New proposals to change the lists of species protected under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) include four species of sharks, (silky shark and three species of thresher sharks), all the devil rays, one stingray, two ornamental marine fishes (Banggai cardinalfish and clarion angelfish) and all the species of the mollusc nautilus.

To review these proposals, this week FAO is convening the Fifth meeting of the FAO-CITES Expert Advisory Panel, 6-10 June, at its Headquarters in Rome, Italy.

The experts invited to the meeting provide information and advice, as appropriate, on each CITES listing proposal. Both the CITES Secretariat and the 182 CITES Parties (mostly also FAO Members) rely on FAO's advice to inform them when they decide how to vote on proposals for CITES listing amendments. This vote is will take place this year, 24 September - 5 October at the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) that will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

CITES is an international agreement, with the aim of ensuring international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten survival. In the late 1990s, increasing concerns by some CITES parties about the status of a small number of important resources for fisheries, led to a review by FAO of the listing criteria CITES uses for deciding on aquatic listings.

The key FAO recommendations were incorporated into revised listing criteria adopted by CITES in 2004. In 2006, the two organizations formalized their collaboration under a Memorandum of Understanding, under which FAO conducts a scientific and technical review of all relevant proposals for amendment of CITES lists. More recently, linkages between FAO and CITES has been strengthened, through jointly supporting countries to achieve the implementation requirements for shark and ray listings decided in 2013.

FAO has an international role to assist states in ensuring fisheries are productive and sustainable. Recognizing the need for management support for shark and rays, FAO assisted countries through the development of the International Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-SHARKS 1998). 

States collaborated on the development of these FAO guidelines and were invited to adopt and implement a national plan of action for conservation and management of shark stocks (Shark-plan) if vessels regularly caught sharks as in their National waters. In addition, several of the top fishing nations are involved in regional or sub-regional cooperation for sustainable fisheries through Regional Fisheries Bodies or other international organizations and a number of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations have adopted measures relevant for the conservation and management of sharks.

To make all shark the fishery and conservation measures accessible to managers in one website, FAO developed a "Database of measures on conservation and management of sharks" released online.

Mr Kim Friedman, the Senior Fishery Resources Officer working with FAO member states on CITES issues, said "This Shark Measures Database is a 'one-stop-shop' for those wishing to find information on shark, ray and skate guidance and management measures". These include 'plans of action' and both binding and non-binding conservation and management measures and national legislation instituted by National authorities, Regional Fishery Bodies, the Convention on Migratory Species and CITES. Mr Friedman stated that "FAO and CITES appreciate the support of the European Union, the Government of Japan and the United States of America who have assisted in the development of this resource".

Sustainable fisheries and healthy ecosystems are embedded within the Blue Growth Initiative advanced by FAO. The Shark Measures Database adds another tool to the coherent framework that FAO provides to support productive and sustainable management of fisheries.

Photo: ©FAO
Thresher sharks are among the new proposals to change the lists of species protected under CITES
Photo: ©FAO
Silky sharks are under discussion at this week’s FAO-CITES Expert Advisory Panel

The new FAO Online 'Shark Measures Database' goes live
In cooperation with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and with the support of the European Union, the Government of Japan and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States of America, FAO has developed a database to document international, regional and national shark measures.

The Shark Measures Database collates management measures to assist sustainable use and conservation of shark resources; making all shark related regulations and guidance to fishery and conservation managers accessible in one website.

This database is a 'one-stop-shop' for those wishing to find shark, skate, ray and chimaera management and guidance measures, instituted by Regional Fishery Bodies, the Convention on Migratory Species, CITES and national authorities. The instruments listed in the Shark Measures Database include both binding and non-binding conservation and management measures, 'plans of action' and national legislation.

Sustainable fisheries and healthy ecosystems are embedded within the Blue Growth Initiative advanced by FAO. The Shark Measures Database adds another tool to the coherent framework that FAO provides to support productive and sustainable management of fisheries.

Photo: ©FAO
Functionality of the new FAO Online 'Shark Measures Database'

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