Conservationists, gov’t agencies call for strict implementation of thresher sharks, mobula rays protection law

Press release - October 4, 2017
October 4, 2017, Cebu City – Conservationists and government agencies today called for the strict implementation of the protection of thresher sharks and mobula rays, as stipulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in an overwhelming vote during last year's Conference of Parties in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The decision takes effect in the Philippines today, as per section 102 of Republic Act 10654, or the Amended Philippine Fisheries Code, a year after the CITES vote.  The vote means that sustainability must first be proven before international trade of the species are granted through a permit process within the member countries.

“We are now making steps to ensure that various fishing communities across the country will help the bureau in implementing the Amended Fisheries Law to protect Thresher Sharks and other CITES listed species. Consistent with the opinion of our legal division, we adhere to the declared policy of the state to adopt precautionary principles, and it is our opinion that a non-detrimental finding (NDF) by a scientific authority is necessary prior to allowing the fishing, taking, catching, gathering, transporting, exporting, forwarding, or shipping out, of aquatic species listed under CITES Appendixes II and III,” said Allan Poquita, Regional Director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Region 7.

“The NDF by a scientific authority will ensure that the utilization or trade of the wildlife will not be incompatible with their survival as a species and that their population is maintained throughout the areas where they go or at a level consistent with its role in the ecosystems,” Poquita added.

Last year, the Province of Cebu together with various organizations in Malapascua Island, including Save Sharks Network Philippines called on the Philippine delegation and governments of the world to support the thresher shark’s Appendix II listing through the issuance of Provincial Resolution No. 2014-15 on 5 September 2016

“The province is committed to pursuing sustainable development and tourism to ensure that each of us will be able to sustainably benefit from the rich natural resources that our island has to offer. We continue to find ways on how visitors going to our island can help us achieve environmental protection and ethical tourism. We will make sure that the decision of the global community to protect sharks and rays will not go to waste, so we will also be calling that a national law to cover other non-listed species will also be there” said Baltazar Tribunalo, Officer-In-Charge of the Cebu Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO).

“The decision of CITES last year is an important victory, as it ensures the benefits of having thresher sharks in our water, such as balanced marine ecology and tourism income. Equally important is the designation of Malapascua as a shark and ray sanctuary.  We hope that the non-consumptive utilization of live shark species will be replicated across the country,” said said Shark Conservationist David Joyce, owner of Evolution Dive Center .

The Philippines has over 200 shark species. They mature late and reproduce slowly. These cartilaginous species easily succumb to fishing pressures compared to their bony-fish counterparts. Driven by an annual trade value of $1 billion[1], humans kill about 100 million sharks every year[2]. The global shark population is experiencing an unprecedented decline, and one-third of all species are threatened with extinction[3].

“Sharks are important not just as a source of income for many coastal communities but are also valuable in maintaining the health of our marine ecosystems. The action by CITES and the provision of the Philippine Fisheries Code is crucial, but a comprehensive shark, ray, and chimaera Conservation Act should be passed to cover other species not protected by existing legal measures,” said Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines and convenor of Save Sharks Network Philippines.

Notes to the editor:

[1] http://www.fao.org/ipoa-sharks/background/sharks/en/

[2] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X13000055

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2009/jun/25/sharks-extinction-iucn-red-list

 

Contact:

JP Agcaoili, Communications Manager, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines
 | +63 949 889 1334

Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines
| +63 949 889 1336

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