Changing Planet

Turtle Island Helps Gain International Protections for a Record Number of Sharks

This week, Turtle Island has been in Quito, Ecuador for the 11th meeting of the United Nation’s Conference of Parties of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). This important event brings together nations, nonprofits, scientists and experts to discuss the conservation of migrating species, like sharks, that recognize no borders.

The news this morning is encouraging.

A record number of threatened shark species, including Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks, Great Hammerhead Sharks, and Thresher Sharks, will be granted greater international protections in part due to our efforts and those of our partners lobbying for their inclusion in the CMS appendices.

Appendices carry certain obligations for CMS member countries. Appendix I requires that parties enforce strict protections, such as bans on takes. An Appendix II listing commits countries to coordinate trans-boundary conservation measures throughout the species’ range.

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Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks swiming in the Cocos Islands, Costa Rica.

All shark species proposals will be officially incorporated into the CMS’s Appendix II on November 9, 2014, the final day of the Conference.

We were honored to attend the treaty meetings, and provide expert advice with colleagues to delegates from many nations through its participation in side events, and through direct discussion with government officials. I believe this type of international collaboration is key to protecting unique species like the scalloped hammerhead sharks that swim through the waters of many nations.

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Turtle Island’s Conservation Science Director Dr. Alex Hearn presents his research on sharks.

I have had the privilege of diving with these hammerhead sharks over the years on research dive expeditions to Cocos Island, Costa Rica and I am personally excited to see the widespread international support for them, and the other five species of sharks in the CMS Appendix II. [1]

This is a start to exciting moment for shark conservation, and one that we hope will lead to improved fishing practices and greater international cooperation to benefit sharks.

Todd Steiner is the founder and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. Previously, he was director of the Tuna Dolphin project, which was responsible for bringing to public view the tuna industry’s impact on dolphins and other marine species. He has more than 30 years experience in environmental protection and education. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. He holds an MS in Biology and lives in Forest Knolls, Calif.

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