Approximately 400 species of sharks are found in the world. Sharks were first included in Appendix II of CITES in February 2003, after the Conference of the Parties to CITES decided at its 12th meeting to include the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) and whale shark (Rhincodon typus) in Appendix II, in accordance with Resolution Conf. 9.24 on Criteria for amendment of Appendices I and II. Species included in Appendix II are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but trade in them is controlled to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival. As of October 2016, twelve species of sharks and all manta and devil rays (which belong to the same subclass Elasmobranchii) are included in Appendix II, and none in Appendix I. However, all species of sawfishes (which also belong to the subclass Elasmobranchii) are in Appendix I.
This section focuses on the sharks and rays listed by CITES and on the ongoing efforts to implement these decisions.
At CoP16, CITES Parties decided to include five shark species and all manta rays in Appendix II. The listing of manta rays and of five species of sharks have entered into effect on 14 September 2014, to give Parties 18 months to resolve technical and administrative issues related to implementation.
At its 17th meeting, in Johannesburg 2017, the Conference of the Parties decided to include silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis), thresher sharks (Alopias spp.) and all nine devil ray species (Mobula spp.) in Appendix II. With the other eight shark species previously included in Appendix II, twelve species of sharks were included in Appendix II. The listing of devil rays entered into effect on 04 April 2017 while the listing of other four shark species will enter into effect on 04 October 2017, by a delay of 12 months.
While commercially-exploited aquatic species have been included in CITES Appendices over the years, these recent listings set new challenges and opportunities for Parties in ensuring that trade is legal, sustainable, and traceable, even for highly traded fisheries commodities.