CITES CoP16: Thank You!

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On behalf of the Shark Research Institute, I am grateful to the Parties of CITES, the Chairs of Committees I and II, the interpreters, and the CITES Secretariat for their hard work in guiding CoP16 through its Plenary session. I also wish to thank the host government and the people of Thailand for their gracious hospitality. CITES tackles the toughest conservation issues of our time, including the trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn, and the worldwide depletion of shark species. Shark Research Institute believes that CITES decisions must be enforced to prevent over-exploitation of sharks and other wildlife, to minimize unsustainable trade, to do all in its power to prevent poaching and smuggling, and see that those who do so are punished.

Congratulations to you all for tackling these issues, for discussing them thoughtfully, and for having the courage to make decisions that will have a positive impact for sharks and other species throughout the world.  There is still much to do and the decisions taken here must be turned into effective action.

We are  especially grateful to Brazil, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, Denmark on behalf of the European Union, Honduras, Mexico, and the USA for proposing the sharks and manta rays for listing on Appendix II.  And a very special thanks are due to SRI Board members Michael Aw (also of Ocean Geographic Society), Georgienne Bradley and Jay Ireland (of Sea Save) who worked tirelessly at CITES to disseminate information about the shark species and manta ray proposals to the delegates.

Back in 2002, at CoP12, the only organizations in attendance fighting for sharks were the Special Survival Network (SSN),  IUCN,  Shark Research Institute and WildAid.   Now  -- some 12 years later at CoP16 -- organizations also advocating for sharks included: Divers for Sharks, German Elasmobranch Society, Humane Society International, Pretoma, PEW, Project Aware, Sea Shepherd-Asia, Shark Advocates International, Shark Defenders, Shark Trust, Wildlife Conservation Society, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and at Plenary, by Fins Attached!

As the UK Minister for Environment David Heath said earlier: “It’s been a good day for species conservation around the world; CITES is addressing issues of global importance and acting in the best interest of species in need. This has been a historic Conference of the Parties.”