MarViva and PEW support Appendix II of CITES

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On Thursday, August 21st, MarViva Foundation -based at the City of Knowledge- and The Pew Charitable Trusts held a workshop regarding the challenge that Panama faces to implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), this time for three species of hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini, S. mokarran and S. zygaena) and manta rays (Manta spp.), who entered the Appendix II in March 2013, which will take effect starting September 14, 2014.  

CITES is an agreement between the governments of 180 countries, whose Appendix II aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of animals and plants listed there, is made in a sustainable way, through a system of permits and certificates aimed at ensuring that export, or introduction from the sea, poses no threat to their survival.

The activity counted with the participation of guests from the government sector (National Environmental Authority, Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama, National Customs Authority and Chancellery), fisheries sector (artisanal and industrial), trade (retail and exporters), FAO, NGOs and universities, with whom they discussed the steps that must be taken to resolve technical and administrative issues related to the implementation of the convention.

In his opening remarks, Nikolas Sánchez, Advocacy Officer at MarViva, expressed his pleasure at the opportunity to open a "dialogue, debate and learn about the responsibilities that the Government, Private Sector and NGOs must attend in the implementation of CITES Appendix II, now available for three species of hammerhead sharks."

Highlights of the activity included the participation of Juan Carlos Vásquez and David Morgan (CITES Secretariat, Geneva, via Skype) with the conference "Origin, objectives and achievements of CITES: Introduction to the concept of non-detriment findings", and Dr. Sebastián Hernández (Universidad Catolica del Norte, Chile) with a training on the identification of sharks according to their fins.

In his presentation, Juan Carlos Sánchez, manager of Communications and Public Awareness for the CITES Secretariat, said that currently "only 3% of the species included in CITES are covered with bans on international trade (Appendix I) while the remaining 97% is allowed under a legal framework that guarantees its sustainability (Appendix II)." He also commented that "Panama is a key country in the control of international trade in sharks, because it has many ships under its flag engaged in this fishery and it is a major transit point through its Canal".

For his part, Juan M. Posada, MarViva Sciences Programme Officer, noted that "State institutions must ensure that international trade of hammerhead sharks is conducted from a fishing activity carried out in a sustainable manner and only then we may issue a Non-Detriment Findings (NDF)." In other words, the NDF is "a risk assessment, and if there are any, as the evidence indicates, then the risk should not be taken."

In his closing argument Maximiliano Bello, Senior Officer at Pew Charitable Trusts, said that "CITES is not the way to ensure the conservation of sharks, but it points in the right direction through the regulations imposed at the international trade level." Pending is the work that "countries can make internally to the operation so that exploitation, if possible, can be carried out in a sustainable manner".

Among the reasons that led Panama to support the entry of the three species of hammerhead sharks in the Appendix II of CITES is that they have low growth rate, low generation rate, they’re slow to reach their first sexual maturity and fishing pressure on newborns or juveniles. The commitment is done and now it just needs to be implemented, a task to which representatives of the National Environmental Authority, Authority on Aquatic Resources of Panama and the National Customs Authority, are committed, since they have been participating in these national and regional workshops.

More Information: Contact Magdalena Velázquez, MarViva Panama Communications Officer. Tel: (507) 317-4350 / 6673-4246 / magdalena.velazquez@marviva.net / www.marviva.net