Top image from cites.org.
(Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)
17th Conference of Parties (CoP17), Johannesburg South Africa
September 24-October 5, 2016
The World Said Yes! With the vote of 108 in favor, 29 against and 5 abstention, it was unanimously adopted during the Plenary last October 5, 2016 and has a 12 month implementation period. The Thresher Sharks is now enlisted under Appendix II, which means that sustainability must be proven before international trade permits are granted. Given this listing, the Thresher Sharks is now automatically protected under RA 10564 (Fisheries Law), Sec. 102, a big breakthrough on the international and national level. Cebu has a provincial ordinance prohibiting the catch and sell of any sharks and ray species in the province of Cebu.
Project Sharklink together with the Philippine delegation headed by Atty. Ernesto Adobo, Jr., Undersecretary of DENR and a team composed of delegates from DFA, DENR, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development and Member adviser Anna Oposa of Save Philippine Seas presented the case of Malapascua Island during the side events and the plenary. The group intervened during the voting and delivered a statement of support for the enlisting of all three species of the thresher sharks in appendix II. The group showed the world that “the sharks are worth more alive than dead”.
For the side event, Dennis Bryan Bait-it of Project Sharklink presented how Malapascua has benefited from the Thresher Sharks especially after Typhoon Haiyan, where the island recovered relatively faster than the rest because of the outpour of support from the diving community who loves the island and the community. Also the contributions of the local fish warden Migo sa Iho in enforcing the first Shark and Ray Sanctuary in the Philippines (Executive Order No. 16-2015, Declaring Monad Shoal and Gato Island as a Shark and Ray Sanctuary).
The efforts of the local business community to fund the 24/7 patrol of the shoal and contributions of Project Sharklink and Save Philippines Seas to deputize local volunteer fishermen as wardens was highlighted. The latest slaughter of 20 thresher sharks and its 6 pups was also shown as part of the plea to ask the world to vote yes for the inclusion of the thresher sharks in appendix II. Locally made wooden thresher shark carvings were also distributed to the member countries to show how different aspects of livelihood was created because of sustainable tourism.
In conclusion, it was a victory for the Thresher Sharks and the People of Daanbantayan. We have shown the world a great impact on how important the Thresher Sharks are to the environment and the community. We have shown the world that a tiny island can speak up for an animal so important to its people, and what the people can do protect for the survival of its species.
~ Dennis Bryan Bait-it
View the proposal for CITES here.