Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans


CITES: what’s happening right now?

The day before yesterday, CITES issued the message, that the The People’s Republic of China has only taken out reservations on Appendix III shark species, and even did so before the Convention of Parties in Bangkok. You find the document here:

This concerns the two species of sharks that had been included in Appendix III in 2012, the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) and the scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini).

Scalloped Hammerhead, Sphyrna Lewini

 So what is exactly the difference between Appendix II and Appendix III?


Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless global trade is closely controlled through permits. It also includes so-called “look-alike species”, i.e. species of which the specimens in trade look like those of species listed for conservation reasons (see Article II, paragraph 2 of the Convention and  Article IV of the Convention).

Appendix III is a list of species included at the request of a Party that already regulates trade in the species and that needs the cooperation of other countries to prevent unsustainable or illegal exploitation (see Article II, paragraph 3, of the Convention).  The export of any specimen of a species included in Appendix III from any State which has included that species in Appendix III shall require the prior grant and presentation of an export permit, the import of any specimen of a species included in Appendix III shall require, except in circumstances to which paragraph 4 of this Article applies, the prior presentation of a certificate of origin and, where the import is from a State which has included that species in Appendix III, an export permit. (See Article V of the Convention).

The porbeagle was included in Appendix III by Member States of the European Union and Australia; Scalloped hammerhead was included in Appendix III by Costa Rica and Australia.
Inclusion of these species in Appendix III took effect on 25 September 2012. There was however more needed for the protection of these species, and a Appendix II listing was urgently required.

This happened at the Convention of Parties in Bangkok in March of this year when the oceanic whitetip shark, porbeagle, three species of hammerheads, and both manta rays – all classified as threatened on the IUCN Red List — were added to CITES Appendix II, which prompts permits to ensure exports are sustainable and legal.  The freshwater sawfish was transferred from Appendix II to I, where all other sawfishes are listed, thereby completing a global ban on international commercial trade in these critically endangered species.

Sonja Fordham, of Sharks Advocates International, who greatly contributed to the listings, states: “I am hopeful that Parties are reaching out to China to encourage them to accept the resounding decisions taken there… Parties have 90 days from the CoP to register reservations on the new Appendix II (and I !) listings“. Let’s all hope that China realizes how important these and all other elasmobranch species are for the future of our oceans!


Also check out Cites4Sharks a joint effort of


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