History of CITES listing of sharks (Elasmobranchii)


Shark and ray species (species in the subclass Elasmobranchii) began to be listed in the CITES Appendices in 2003. More species have been included over the years in the CITES Appendices (see the table below for details).


Species Appendix Effective date
Cetorhinus maximus (Basking shark)
(previously III since 13/09/00)
Rhincodon typus (Whale shark)
Carcharodon carcharias (Great white shark)
(previously III since 13/09/00)
Pristidae spp. (Sawfishes - 7 species)
Lamna nasus (Porbeagle shark)
(previously III since 13/09/00)
Carcharinus longimanus (Oceanic whitetip shark)
Sphyrna lewini (Scalloped hammerhead)
(previously III since 13/09/00)
Sphyrna mokarran (Great hammerhead shark)
Sphyrna zygaena (Smooth hammerhead shark)
Manta spp. (Manta rays)
Mobula spp.(Devil rays) II 04/04/2017
Alopias spp. (Thresher sharks) II 04/10/2017
Carcharhinus falciformis (Silky shark) II 04/10/2017
Isurus oxyrinchus (shortfin mako shark) II 26/11/2019
Isurus paucus (longfin mako  shark) II 26/11/2019
Glaucostegus spp. (Guitarfishes; 8 species) II 26/11/2019
Rhinidae spp. (Wedgefishes) II 26/11/2019
Carcharhinidae spp. (Requiem sharks; 54 additional species) II 25/11/2023
Sphyrnidae spp. (Hammerhead sharks; 6 additional species) II 23/02/2023
Potamotrygon spp. (7 species) II 23/02/2023
Rhinobatidae spp. (Guitarfishes; 37 species) II 23/02/2023


Chronological overview of the CITES listing of sharks, and decisions made by the Conference of the Parties to CITES in relation to sharks

1994 (CoP9): adoption of  Resolution Conf. 9.17 - Status of International Trade in Shark Species where the Conference of the Parties requested inter alia that:

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and international fishery management organizations establish programmes to further collect and assemble the necessary biological and trade data on shark species; and
  • All nations utilizing and trading specimens of sharks species cooperate with FAO and other international fishery management organizations.

1997 (CoP10): Adoption of Decisions aiming at the effective implementation of Resolution Conf. 9.17, including to:

  • Request the Parties concerned, in collaboration with FAO and regional fishery organizations, to improve systems to identify, record and report landings of sharks;
  • Request Parties to reduce the mortality of sharks in by-catch;
  • Encourage Parties to initiate the management of shark fisheries at the national level and to establish international and regional bodies to coordinate this management; and
  • Request FAO, the CITES Animals Committee and the CITES Secretariat to undertake specific activities to improve the conservation and effective management of sharks.

In 1998, FAO organized two intergovernmental meetings to discuss a draft International Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks). The IPOA-Sharks was adopted by the FAO Committee on Fishery in February 1999 and endorsed by the FAO Council in June 1999. Each State is encouraged to implement a National Plan of Action (NPOA) for the conservation and management of shark stocks if their vessels directly fish for sharks or regularly catch sharks as by-catch. The NPOAs should, inter alia, improve the collection of species-specific data on catch and landings data collection, monitoring and management of shark fishery. The IPOA-Sharks also noted the importance of international collaboration on data collection and management of transboundary, straddling, highly migratory and high seas shark stocks.

2000 (CoP11): Following the adoption of the IPOA-Sharks, CITES Resolution Conf. 9.17 was repealed. The CITES Animals Committee was instructed to maintain liaison with the FAO Committee of Fishery (COFI) in order to monitor the implementation of the IPOA-Sharks and to report on progress at CoP12 (2002).

Cetorhinus maximus (basking shark) was included in CITES Appendix III on 13 September 2000 at the request of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This was the first shark species to be listed in the CITES Appendices.

2001:Carcharodon carcharias (great white shark) was included in CITES Appendix III on 29 October 2001 at the request of Australia.

2002 (CoP12): Parties expressed concern because:

  • Insufficient progress had been made in achieving shark management through the implementation of the IPOA-Sharks;
  • The development and implementation of NPOAs had not been sufficient; and
  • Continued significant trade in sharks and their products was not sustainable.

As a result, the Conference of the Parties adopted Resolution Conf. 12.6 where it directed the Animals Committee and its Chair to:

  • Continue monitoring the implementation of the IPOA-Sharks and to report on progress at CoP13; and
  • Identify key species and examine these for possible listing under CITES. If deemed necessary, the Animals Committee was to make species-specific recommendations on improving the conservation status of sharks and the regulation of international trade in these species.

Committee I of the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP12) rejected amendment proposal CoP12 Prop. 35 submitted by India, Madagascar and the Philippines to include Rhincodon typus (whale shark) in Appendix II and amendment proposal CoP12 Prop. 36 submitted by the United Kingdom on behalf of the Member States of the European Community to include Cetorhinus maximus (basking shark) in Appendix II. However, the debate was reopened at the final plenary session and both proposals were eventually adopted. These species were the first shark species to be included in Appendix II, a listing that, unlike listings in Appendix III, requires the approval of the Conference of the Parties to CITES.

2004 (CoP13): The Conference of the Parties adopted amendment proposal CoP13 Prop. 32 submitted by Australia and Madagascar to include Carcharodon carcharias (great white shark) in Appendix II, with an amendment by the proponents to withdraw the proposed zero annual export quota.

The Animals Committee provided a substantive report and found that:

  • Twice as many Parties had reported progress with the implementation of the IPOA-Sharks than two years previously, this improvement being particularly noticeable in some African range States; and
  • There was scant evidence of improved shark fishery management.

The Animals Committee was instructed to carry on its work and to:

  • Review implementation issues related to sharks listed in the CITES Appendices with a view inter aliato sharing experiences and solutions that may have been found;
  • Identify specific cases and key shark species where trade was having an adverse impact; and
  • Prepare a report on trade-related measures adopted and implemented by Parties aimed at improving the conservation status of sharks.

Parties further requested FAO to organize a consultation to review progress with the implementation of the IPOA-Sharks in order to: assess the effectiveness and efficiency of current conservation and management measures for sharks; and identify any improvements needed. In December 2005, the FAO expert consultation on the implementation of the IPOA-Sharks found that:

  • It was not achieving the level of success envisaged at the time of its inception;
  • Concrete operational activities were insufficient and unsatisfactory; and

Efforts to improve its effectiveness should be strengthened.As part of the consultation, FAO also reviewed constraints on implementation and made suggestions to improve effectiveness.

2007 (CoP14): An extensive programme of work on sharks was agreed for Parties, the Animals Committee and the Secretariat.

Kenya and the United States of America submitted amendment proposal CoP14 Prop. 17 to include all species in the family Pristidae (sawfishes) in Appendix I. This was adopted with the amendment that Pristis microdon would be included in Appendix II with the annotation “For the exclusive purpose of allowing trade in live animals to appropriate and acceptable aquaria for primarily conservation purposes”. CoP14 was the third consecutive meeting of the Conference of the Parties where elasmobranch species were included in the CITES Appendices.

2010 (CoP15): Following on and amplifying this trend, CoP15 saw four proposals (CoP15 Prop. 15, CoP15 Prop. 16, CoP15 Prop. 17 and CoP15 Prop. 18) put forward to include eight shark species  in Appendix II: Sphyrna lewini (scalloped hammerhead shark), Sphyrna mokarran (great hammerhead shark), Sphyrna zygaena (smooth hammerhead shark), Carcharhinus plumbeus (sandbar shark), Carcharhinus obscurus (dusky shark), Carcharinus longimanus (Oceanic whitetip shark), Lamna nasus (Porbeagle shark) and Squalus acanthias (Spiny dogfish). All four proposals failed to win sufficient support from the Parties and were therefore rejected.

The Conference of the Parties revised Resolution Conf. 12.6. In addition to restating its continued concern at the unsustainable trade in sharks and their products and at the insufficient progress made in achieving shark management through the implementation of the IPOA-Sharks, the Conference:

  • Urged FAO and Parties to strengthen their efforts; and
  • Instructed the Animals Committee to make species-specific recommendations, if necessary, on improving the conservation status of sharks and to examine information provided by range States on trade as well as other data and information. It also directed the Animals Committee to report on activities affecting sharks and rays at future CoP meetings.

2012:Lamna nasus (Porbeagle shark) was included in Appendix III on 25 September 2012 at the request of Denmark on behalf of EU Member States. In the meantime, Sphyrna lewini (Scalloped hammerhead) was included in Appendix III at the request of Costa Rica.

2013 (CoP16): Seven proposals to include shark species in CITES Appendix II  were submitted for consideration. Proposal CoP16 Prop. 42 on Carcharhinus longimanus (oceanic whitetip shark), proposal CoP16 Prop. 43 on Sphyrna lewiniS. mokarran and S. zygaena (scalloped hammerhead shark, great hammerhead shark and smooth hammerhead shark, respectively) and proposal CoP16 Prop. 44 on Lamna nasus (porbeagle shark) were adopted with an annotation for an 18-month delay to enter into force to enable Parties to resolve related technical and administrative issues. Also adopted was proposal CoP16 Prop. 46 to include all manta rays (Manta spp) in Appendix II and proposal CoP16 Prop. 45 to transfer Pristis microdon (freshwater sawfish) from Appendix II to Appendix I. However, the proposed inclusion in Appendix II of Paratrygon aiereba (Ceja river stingray, in proposal CoP16 Prop. 47) and Potamotrygon motoro and P. schroederi (ocellate river stingray and rosette river stingray, in proposal CoP16 Prop. 48) were rejected.

The Conference of the Parties further revised Resolution Conf. 12.6 (Rev. CoP15) to encourage range States of freshwater stingrays (Potamotrygonidae) to take actions related to these species. Through Decision 16.128, Parties are further requested to provide a summary of their domestic laws on landing of and trade in shark specimens, for inclusion in CITES website, and FAO and CITES are asked to develop a single and regularly updated source summarizing RFMO measures to conserve and manage sharks. Finally, Parties are encouraged in Decision 16.129 to engage with the work on sharks conducted by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

2016 (CoP17): Four proposals regarding shark species were submitted for consideration. Proposal CoP17 Prop. 42 on Carcharhinus falciformis (silky shark), proposal CoP17 Prop. 43 on Alopias spp. (thresher sharks) and proposal CoP17 Prop. 44 Mobula spp. (devil rays) were adopted while proposal CoP Prop. 45 Potamotrygon motoro (Ocellate river stingray) was rejected.