Delegates to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) have taken the significant step of voting to protect two manta ray and five shark species at the 16th Conference of the Parties in Bangkok, Thailand this past week. Sharks have been heavily targeted for their fins and mantas for their gills, despite the species’ proven value to ocean ecosystem health and to global ecotourism.
WildAid’s campaign to reduce use of shark fin is making a huge impact in Asia by decreasing the demand for and the import-export business of shark fin. According to the South China Morning Post, the Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong reported that shark fin imports have reduced from 10,292 tons to 3,087 tons from 2011 to November 2012; over a 70% decline.
Recently protected as a migratory species under Australian law, international communities are picking up momentum to stem the rapid decline of giant manta rays, whose global numbers have dropped by 30%.
The Government of Costa Rica declared zero tolerance to shark finning, in a ceremony held this morning at Manuel Antonio National Park, Quepos. There, with the presence of environmentalists, the President of the Republic, Laura Chinchilla, signed an executive order. Under this order, imports of shark fins into the country will be banned. Shark finning practices were already forbidden in the Costa Rica territory and waters.
This week, Richard Branson and former Costa Rica president, José María Figueres Olsen, urged Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla Miranda, in an open letter, to sign a Presidential Decree prohibiting the importation of all shark fins into Costa Rica.
WildAid and Cotecna Certificadora Services hosted a four-day course earlier this month for officials from Agrocalidad, the Galapagos National Park, the Galapagos Government Council, and Charles Darwin Foundation. The training course focused on improving participants’ knowledge about international maritime regulations and practices related to the inspection of boats, containers, and cargo for the protection of human and environmental safety.
In an effort to further combat illegal fishing, WildAid conducted a marine enforcement assessment of two No-Take Zones (NTZs) in Southeast Misool, Indonesia, one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet. The report provides concrete recommendations to strengthen operations, improve compliance, and lower operational costs.