Sharks and Rays Get New Protections Under International Wildlife Trade Treaty

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today approved new international protections for thresher sharks, silky sharks and mobula rays by moving the species to Appendix II at the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) in Johannesburg, South Africa. Under this listing, countries that wish to continue to trade in these species will need to find that their trade does not endanger these species in the wild.

Populations of thresher sharks, silky sharks and mobula rays have declined drastically in recent years – by 70 percent or more in many parts of their range – driven primarily by the lucrative market for shark fins, an expensive delicacy in Asian cuisine, and ray gill plates, which are highly valued as a health tonic in Asian medicine. The demand is unsustainable and it is driving these vulnerable species towards extinction.

A motion calling for this action was co-sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and passed overwhelmingly last month at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, the world’s largest gathering of conservation leaders.

Following is a statement from Elizabeth Murdock, director of NRDC’s Pacific Ocean Initiative:

“The demand for silky shark and thresher shark fins and for mobula ray gill plates is completely unsustainable and it is driving these vulnerable species towards extinction. Listing these important species under CITES Appendix II is a huge step forward for sharks and rays — and for the health of our oceans globally.”


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC. 

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