The pronouncement came at the conclusion of the first-ever Philippine Shark Summit 2014 , held in Cebu City. Sector-specific workshops on actions and recommendations for shark conservation and sustainable management were also conducted.
“Sharks and rays are slow-growing, mature late and bear relatively few young. This makes them vulnerable to overexploitation.” said Moonyeen Alava, one of the leading shark researchers in the Philippines. “Sharks are not only targeted in fishing but are also caught accidentally as bycatch. We need to manage our shark and ray fisheries better.”
Sharks are extremely valuable to Philippine ecology, tourism and economy. The country is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to ensure that international trade on species of wildlife flora and fauna does not threaten their survival. However, there are very few policies and legal instruments that protect the various species of sharks and rays and their habitats. A number of species are facing the risk of extinction primarily due to unsustainable fishing practices . They are hunted for their fins, meat and oil.
Other key recommendations during the Shark Summit 2014 include:
- The establishment of ocean sanctuaries— a global network marine reserves which would create a safe haven for sharks and other species to thrive and propagate.
- Ban the trade in sharks and shark products to put an end to the catching, killing and slaughtering of sharks.
- Systematic education and awareness programs in all sectors involved in shark tourism.
“National protection of sharks and rays is a non-negotiable indicator for the success of this summit and everyone has pledged to do their part- from the local government, to the tourism industry, even university students,” said Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines. “Currently, bills on shark and ray conservation filed in Congress have not moved beyond the first reading. Law makers need to be enlightened on the need to protect sharks and declare them a wildlife priority. We should even consider making the Philippines the world’s largest shark sanctuary.”
“As we close Shark Week, it is important to emphasize the importance of sharks to our marine biodiversity. Shark conservation means ocean conservation, so they need to be protected from further extinction,” said Anna Oposa, Co-Founder of Save Philippine Seas.
Notes to the Editor:
 In response to increasing concern over the sustainability of shark fisheries and trade, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources issued the National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPOA-Sharks) in 2009, after a series of national and regional consultations on the status of shark fisheries in the country. The NPOA-Sharks highlights several important issues and concerns that urgently need to be revisited, so that actionable targets will be arrived at from a variety of perspectives to further advance shark conservation and management in the country.
 The Shark Summit 2014 was organized by the following: Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Provincial Government of Cebu led by Governor Hilario Davide III, Office of Cebu Provincial Board Member and Environment Committee Chair Thadeo Ouano, Office of Sangguniang Panglungsod of Cebu City, SP Member and Environment Committee Chair Nida Cabrera, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Save Philippine Seas, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, ECOFISH Philippines, Manta Trust, Phil. Earth Justice Center Inc., Hotel, Resort, and Restaurant Association of Cebu Inc., Foundation for the Philippine Environment and Oceana Philippines.
 Since most sharks and rays have slow growth, late maturity and low fecundity, they are highly vulnerable and cannot readily bounce back from population declines due to unsustainable fishing practices, specifically from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU).
For more information, please contact:
Philippines Oceans Campaigner
Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Save Philippine Seas