Increased protection for sharks and rays

Six species of endangered shark and both types of manta ray will benefit from protection from trade following a decision at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) yesterday.

Scalloped hammerheads, oceanic whitetips, porbeagles and smooth and great hammerheads have been listed in Appendix II of CITES meaning that although trade will still be allowed, it will be severely restricted. Another species of shark, the freshwater sawfish, has been up-listed from Appendix II to Appendix I meaning all trade in this critically endangered species must stop.

Matthew Gollock from the Zoological Society of London's Marine and Freshwater Conservation Programme, said: "This is fantastic news but it is essential that these trade restrictions are a first step towards broader protection for these amazing animals that includes the establishment of marine protected areas and improved fisheries management. This will not only benefit sharks and rays but marine species generally.

"ZSL's work on the EDGE Sharks project and on developing monitoring programmes for open-ocean species such as the oceanic whitetip shark in the Chagos Archipelago are very much focused on achieving this goal."

As top predators, many sharks help to regulate marine ecosystems, and are a vital component of the oceans; however, a recent report has suggested that around 100 million sharks are being killed each year by target fisheries and as by-catch, primarily for their valuable fins.

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