On several occasions over the past months, I have mentioned the upcoming convening of CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species) set for next March. These meetings are always important because CITES is one of the leading international bodies that can generate worldwide policy decisions regarding a wide range of flora and fauna species.
Several species of sharks are expected to be introduced for consideration under CITES system of Appendix classifications (Appendix I requires a complete ban in harvest & trade, while Appendix II does not ban but requires restrictions to "acceptable & sustainable" levels).
The Humane Society International circulated an email today as a reminder of the upcoming CITES meeting and the need to make sure that as much friendly pressure as possible must be exerted on those nations that are undecided on the issue of shark species.
One of the sharks up for consideration is the Spiny Dogfish - a smaller shark, one of the less remarkable or noteworthy sharks but critically important all the same. Populations of these sharks in the Northern Atlantic are in rapid decline with over 75% of mature breeding females having been lost. Surprisingly, the sharks are caught for fish and chips, not shark fins (although some are caught for that market), and are a substitute for declining stocks of cod or haddock. However, unlike cod or haddock, spiny dogfish are slow to reproduce - as is the case with all sharks - and so the impact of commercial fishing has been profound and rapid.
The European Union and Palau will be proposing Appendix II protections for the spiny dogfish. The Humane Society is providing an online form so that people may contact key U.S. officials as the U.S. has not made a firm commitment to the proposal and there are plenty of commercial fishing industry organizations and lobbies hard at work to prevent passage.
Whether it's the "celebrity" sharks like great whites, hammerheads or whale sharks or more obscure sharks like the spiny dogfish, all need protection. Click here and add your voice to insure that CITES will do its part to help save these important ocean animals.