Groups call on countries to protect whale sharks at CMS, urges PH government to protect all shark species

Press release - October 23, 2017
23 October 2017, Manila, Philippines – Marine conservation groups today called on the world’s nations to ensure protection of whale sharks and wedgefish when the Twelfth Session of the Conference of Parties (CoP) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) takes place in Manila on 23-28 October 2017. The groups are also urging the Philippine government to pass a comprehensive law to protect all Philippine sharks species.

The whale shark was the first shark to be nationally protected, through Fisheries Administrative Order 193 in 1998[1].  In spite of this, whale sharks were re-classed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List in 2016 from Vulnerable to Endangered, which is a step closer to Extinction.

“The Philippines has been at the frontline of protecting whale sharks for nearly two decades. At the upcoming CoP, the Philippines will again lead their protection by being the proponent for uplisting from Appendix II to Appendix I. By listing them on Appendix I, parties are urged to strictly protect them throughout their migratory range,” said Anna Oposa, Executive Director of Save Philippine Seas. “We have shown the world that sharks are truly more valuable alive than dead.”

Wedgefishes are commonly targeted because of their high-valued fins and are threatened by over-exploitation, giving the white-spotted wedgefish (Rhynchobatus australiae) a Vulnerable status under the IUCN. According to the groups, steps are needed to be taken to improve this status, especially through the cooperation among countries within its range, since it is a highly mobile species, which makes it a shared resource.

“The Philippines proposes the listing of wedgefish in Appendix II at the CoP to strengthen the country's efforts to conserve sharks and rays in the long-term.  The Philippines encourages the parties to the convention to support this proposal," said Dr. AA Yaptinchay, Executive Director of Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines

The groups are also looking at the CMS meeting as an opportunity to call on the Philippine government to fill in legislative gaps in the protection of shark species, of which the Philippines has over 200. They mature late, reproduce slowly, and easily succumb to fishing pressures compared to their bony-fish counterparts. Driven by an annual trade value of $1 billion[2], humans kill about 100 million sharks every year[3]. The global shark population is experiencing an unprecedented decline, and one-third of all species are threatened with extinction[4]. These cartilaginous species also easily succumb to fishing pressure because they reproduce slowly.

“The Philippines is in a unique position globally when it comes to shark species biodiversity, ranking fourth, next to Australia, Indonesia, and Japan. However only a few species are protected in the Philippines. To demonstrate that we are serious about our call to the global community, it is important for the Philippine government to pass a comprehensive law to protect and conserve all shark species in the country. Sharks are important species in maintaining the health of our marine ecosystem, but it is threatened with illegal, unregulated, unreported, and destructive fishing,” Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines, said.

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For more information:
Vince Cinches, Political Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines
| +63 949 889 1336

Angelica Carballo Pago, Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines
| +63 949 889 1332