The western Pacific leatherback turtle, the world’s largest reptile and a common sight every year in the waters outside the Golden Gate, could go extinct within 20 years if more isn’t done to protect its habitat and nesting sites, a team of international experts concluded.
The worldwide population of the endangered Pacific leatherback has declined more than 90 percent since the 1980s because of commercial fishing, egg poaching, destruction of nesting habitat, degradation of foraging habitat and changing ocean conditions.
On March 3rd, the Canadian photojournalist and biologist Nick Hawkins found over 80 blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) heads and dead bodies off western Cabuya Island, in direction of Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve. The finding happened when Hawkins was exploring the area while photographing for a conservation project on the Nicoya Peninsula.
Nick Hawkins quotes, “I spent over 30 minutes collecting heads and bodies for a photo, I collected around 80 but there were still many more scattered about a larger area. All of the sharks were juveniles and some were fully intact, killed needlessly and then discarded.”
“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. There are almost 30 commercial shark species in the Pacific of Costa Rica and these are caught for the high value of their fins but also for national meat consumption, especially the young individuals that haven’t reproduce yet, as in this case” states Randall Arauz of Pretoma. “One more time, this encounter shows the great fishing pressures on sharks and the urgent need to expand and create marine protected areas in coastal zones where the shark feed during juvenile stages” concluded Arauz.
For more information:
Nick Hawkins - email@example.com - http://www.njhawkins.com/
Pretoma, firstname.lastname@example.org, (506) 22415227
(March 11, 2013 – Bangkok, Thailand)
In a very close vote, the plenary of CITES approved by a 2/3 majority the inclusion of hammerhead sharks in Appendix II. The proposal was submitted by Costa Rica, Honduras and Brazil, and has obtained the support of Central America, most of the South American countries, the European Union, the United States, and blocks of African nations.
Due to the lack of a technical justification, some countries claimed the measure could not be implemented, or that it could affect artisanal fisheries of developing nations. However, Brazil expressed that it would provide technical and financial training for implementation. Furthermore, a CITES Appendix II listing will only affect international trade, while artisanal fishers catch juveniles for domestic consumption.
“This measure will finally control the irrational and unsustainable catch of hammerhead sharks to meet the demand of shark fins in international markets,” said Randall Arauz, marine species advisor to the Costa Rican delegation. “Far from being detrimental to artisanal fisheries, the measure will be beneficial to them, as it will guarantee the protection of adults, allowing them to reproduce into perpetuity.
“The hammerhead shark is of extreme importance to Costa Rica, not only due to its importance in domestic fisheries, but also due to its importance for the dive industry, where their observation generates yearly revenues of millions of US$,” expressed José Joaquín Calvo, Chief of the Costa Rican delegation. “We will continue with these regional and global processes, to guarantee the sustainable use of hammerhead sharks and other highly migratory species for the future generations.”
Votes in favor: 91
Votes against: 39
NOTE: Stil existe the possibility that China or Japan will overturn the vote when the convention returns to plenary.
Over 10,000 citizens from around the world support protection of hammerhead sharks in CITES.
Latin American united against Asia
(March 7, 2013 – San José, Costa Rica)
Over 10,000 citizens from 118 countries signed a petition calling on the delegates participating in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), currently meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, to provide protection of hammerhead sharks from international trade by listing the species under Appenix II of the Convention. Click here to see the list.
The proposal was submitted by Costa Rica, Honduras and Brazil, and currently enjoys the support of Central America, most of South America, the United States and the European Union. At this moment, Latin American delegates are working hard to gain the support of African nations. The Latin American region also seeks the listing in Appendix II of porbeagle sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks and manta rays.
Currently, over 100 million sharks are globally sacrificed every year to supply the demand of shark fins in Asia. The lack of controls has led to the dramatic depletion of shark populations. Hammerhead sharks are particularly sought due to the high quality of its fins, and declines in its population have been reported in the range of 90% or more. The listing of the species in Appendix II would not ban the commercial activity, but rather ensure that the products of this species come from legal and controlled fisheries that do not compromise its survival.
Japan leads a block of Asian nations that seeks to avoid such controls, and through the secret vote mechanism hopes to derail the initiative and maintain this unsustainable extraction volume.
“Hammerhead sharks migrate throughout the oceanic islands of the Eastern Tropical Pacific, where a large presence occurs of national and foreign vessels that carry out the unsustainable extraction of this species,” informed Randall Arauz, advisor to the Costa Rican delegation on marine species. “CITES promotes regional and international cooperation, ensuring the perpetuity of this species, which annually generates millions of US$ through non lethal activities such as ecotourism and diving.”
The hammerhead shark vote is expected to take place on Friday March 8th, but could be delayed until Monday the 11th.
(February 4, 2013)
Convened by the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca) last January 30th in Playas del Coco, Guanacaste, leaders of 12 artisinal fishing associations listened to the institutional proposal to impose minimum catch size limits for some commercial fish species that they extract. Even though the artisinal fishermen are convinced that these measures are necessary to warrant the sustainability of their fishery, they question its efficiency without a ban on shrimp trawl operations. (Read artisinal fishermen statement, spanish only).
Incopesca’s sudden management proposal responds to the recent report of the General Controllership of the Republic’s Report (No. DFOE-EC-IF-14-2012) “Special INCOPESCA Audit Report Related to the fulfillment of its Functions Regarding Marine Resource Conservation,” which severely criticizes INCOPESCA for not establishing minimum catch size limits as a fisheries management measure.
“The Imposition of these measures without stopping the shrimp trawlers means the extinction of artisinal fishers, and along with them, a major part of the cultural heritage of coastal areas of Guanacaste would also dissapear”, complained Dehivis Jimenez Chaverry, artisinal fishers of Playas del Coco.
“If INCOPESCA is concerned over the sustainability of artisanal fisheries, it must ban destructive shrimp trawling immediately,” stated Randall Arauz, of the Costa Rican organization PRETOMA. “INCOPESCA’s proposal is a slap in the face to the public interest, and far from promoting the sustainability of fisheries, it promotes overfishing in favor of private interests, like always ,” denounced Arauz.
Adding to the request to immediately restrict shrimp trawl operations at least 6 maritime miles offshore, between Cabo Blanco to the South and the Nicaraguan border to the North, the artisinal fishers request a time frame for the total implementation of the measure.
(January 29, 2013 – San José, Costa Rica)
Last Friday January 25, the Council of Ministers of the Central American Commission of Environment and Development (CCAD), which belongs to the Environment Department of the Central American Integration System (SICA), agreed to support the initiative to include hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) en Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The proposal was formally presented by Costa Rica, Honduras, and Brazil, and it will be discussed and voted during the next Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Convention, to be held next March in Bangkok, Thailand. Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and the European Union have also supported the proposal.
According to the Council of Ministers of CCAD “populations of this marine species have dwindled due to overfishing, incidental catch, and shark finning, and also because the fins are highly prized for consumption in Asian markets, because of which it is necessary to take decisions and start the battle in favor of the conservation of all shark species.”
According to Randall Arauz, of the Costa Rican organization Pretoma, it is disturbing that some Central American countries have yet to define their position regarding hammerhead sharks at CITES. “The recommendation of the CCAD builds upon the opinion of the Panel of Experts of FAO (2010) and the plenary of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) during the most recent World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea, last September,” informed Arauz. “Sadly, some Central American countries have done nothing but come up with one excuse after another to deny hammerheads the immediate protection they need and deserve, from international trade, thus solely benefitting the shark fin industry.”