Protect thresher sharks now – Conservationists tell the government

Press release - April 19, 2016
Cebu City — Leading voices in Philippine conservation are calling on the global community to protect thresher sharks in the upcoming Conference of Parties (CoP) 17 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) this September 2016.

Conservationists from Save Sharks Network Philippines, joined by the Provincial Government of Cebu, the Municipality of Daanbantayan, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Regional Office of Cebu, gathered in the BFAR Region 7 office in Cebu on April 19 to discuss the importance of protecting thresher sharks locally and globally. By listing thresher sharks on CITES Appendix II, parties must prove that the trade of the sharks is sustainable.

Atty. Chad Estela of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources office said, “It is the logical obligation of the Philippines to call on the world to include thresher sharks in the Appendix II as we are the only country in the world that can boast to having an established thresher shark dive tourism industry. Scuba divers at Monad Shoal off the coast of Malapascua Island, Daanbantayan can see these sharks in the early morning hours, almost everyday.”

In recent years, the province of Cebu has been at the forefront of shark conservation, legislating the Cebu Provincial Resolution No. 691-2010/Provincial Ordinance No.2012-05, which bans the capture, killing, transport, and sale of all three species of thresher sharks found in the Philippines, hosting the first Philippine Shark Summit in 2014, and finally, establishing of the country’s first shark and ray sanctuary in Monad Shoal and Gato Island through Executive Order No. 16-2015.

Despite the local regulations in place, thresher sharks are still regularly caught, either as an incidental bycatch or in targeted fisheries beyond the jurisdiction of the aforementioned local regulations. Last April 12 2016, a Facebook user uploaded an album full of a dead big-eye thresher shark in Paypay, Daanbantayan, with the caption: “Sa mga walay sud-an dha ari mo sa baybayon… Kinsay ganahan mo ambit ani?” (For those who don’t have food, you can come to Baybayon. Who wants to eat this?)

Anna Oposa of Save Philippine Seas and one of the conveners of Save Sharks Network, added, “CITES and the global community should learn from the tremendous efforts of Cebuanos to protect sharks and rays by putting Threshers in the Appendix II of CITES this coming Conference of Parties.”

Thresher sharks are caught for their fins to make shark fin soup and comprise at least 2.3% of the fins entering into Hong Kong, the global hub of the shark fin trade. While this number may sound small, it equates to four million thresher sharks killed per year. Locally, thresher sharks are known to be targeted for the Asian shark fin trade in Batangas Bay, Sogon, and Bohol, places outside the jurisdiction of the aforementioned ordinances.

Vince Cinches, the Philippine Oceans Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia: “Sharks, being highly migratory, are important species in the protection of our oceans and maintaining the ecological integrity of our waters.”

The Save Sharks Network Philippines (SSNP) is a marine conservation coalition of prominent voices in the Philippines’ scientific, NGO, and tourism community. Previous accomplishments of the network includes a successful campaign for the country’s flag carrier and national airline, Philippine Airlines, to stop the shipment of shark fins in 2014; the passage of Cebu Ordinance Provincial Resolution No. 691-2010/Provincial Ordinance No.2012-05, and Executive Order 16-2015 which established the country’s first shark and ray sanctuary in Daanbantayan, Cebu; Oplan Palwis (dorsal fin), a management plan that  aims to strengthen the existing local ordinance; and the first ever Philippine Shark Summit which was hosted by the Cebu Provincial Government last 2014.


Vince Cinches, Greenpeace Southeast Asia