CONSERVATIONISTS called on the global community to enlist thresher sharks on the Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
“We are calling on the protection of thresher sharks by the global community,” said Vince Cinches of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Thresher sharks are commonly distinguished by their big black eyes and long tail fin.
“We are the only place in the world where we can see thresher sharks almost every day. It is more common to see it than not to see it,” said Anna Oposa of Save Philippine Seas (SPS) and one of the convenors of Save Sharks Network (SSN).
In the Philippines, thresher sharks are found in the depths of Monad Shoal near Malapascua Island.
Conservationists from SSN, joined by the Provincial Government of Cebu, the Municipality of Daanbantayn, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional office in Cebu, gathered yesterday to discuss the importance of the thresher sharks and what they need in order to realize their goal of enlisting the shark species.
At present, there are only five species of sharks included on CITES Appendix II.
CITES is an “international agreement between governments whose aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.”
The countries involved “have to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.”
The Philippines has been a CITES member since 1981.
Cinches said that the proposal on adding thresher shark to CITES Appendix II is being led by Sri Lanka.
According to the official website of CITES, Appendix II is a list of “species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled.”
“Sri Lanka is leading the proposal that’s why they’re also meeting with us. What is lacking now is the position of the government (Philippines). That is why we are having this conference,” Cinches said, in preparation for the Conference of Parties in September 2016.
Oposa also said that they will pursue a scientific study on the sharks to establish a system that will regulate the thresher shark trade.
She said that they already have a letter of support from the municipality of Daanbantayan and from various groups seeking the protection of the sharks. They have also submitted their proposal to BFAR for evaluation.
Atty. Chad Estella of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office shared that the Province of Cebu supports this move but the petition letter from the governor is still on progress.
Thresher shark tourism gave the people an opportunity to earn through rendering products or services to the tourists.
“For the people of Daanbantayan and northern Cebu, these are treasure sharks because 80 percent of the economy of Daanbantayan relies on the tourism coming from diving particularly to see the thresher sharks,” said Oposa.
Oscar Conje, a member of Amigo sa Iho, said that his group learned the presence of the thresher sharks since 1980s but they weren’t aware then what kind of sharks these were. Lorraine Mitzi Ambrad, USJ-R Mass Comm Intern
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 20, 2016.
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