October 31, 2014

Banner CMSCosta Rica will support the inclusion of hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini, Sphyrna mokarran) in Appendix II and Egypt’s proposal to include silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis) in Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). The announcement was released Thursday during a national press conference where Costa Rica’s CMS focal point, Gina Cuza, unveiled the official “Country Position” after a six month consultation process with governmental agencies, NGOs, scientists, and the general public. The listing proposals will be voted on by the CMS’s 120 member states during its 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) in Quito, Ecuador on November 4-9, 2014.

The announcement continues Costa Rica’s international support for the protection of sharks begun in 2004 when the country proposed to the United National that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached to their bodies to avoid the proactive of shark finning. More recently, Costa Rican was the catalyst nation behind an Appendix II listing for hammerhead sharks in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 2013. “Costa Rica has taken a firm stance supporting hammerhead protection, and it has established its role as an international leader for other countries to follow”, said Randall Arauz, President of PRETOMA.

In June, Costa Rica and Ecuador jointly submitted two proposals to include hammerhead sharks in Appendix II of CMS, an initiative that would enable governments to work more closely together on species conservation and protection strategies. Qualifying species can be proposed for inclusion in either the Convention’s Appendix I or II. An Appendix I listing would ban all commercial capture and use of the species, while an Appendix II listing requires countries to develop management strategies that protect the species from overexploitation. While the proposed hammerhead shark populations are endangered and qualify them for an Appendix I listing, it was agreed upon during Costa Rica’s and Ecuador’s evaluation process that an Appendix II listing would more likely be voted into the Convention than an Appendix I listing for hammerheads. “At this time, it is critical that we do as much as we can to protect every last hammerhead from overexploitation”, said Andy Bystrom, PRETOMA consultant and co-author of the hammerhead proposals, “this iconic shark contributes heavily to Costa Rica’s tourism industry and is thousands of times more valuable to the country alive than dead”, he continued.

The proposed hammerhead species have experienced population declines of up to 99% in certain areas of the world, and the Eastern Pacific Ocean’s (where both Costa Rican and Ecuador are located) population of S. lewini was recently placed on the United Stated Endangered Species List. Silky sharks are widely fished in Costa Rica and their catch has declined up to 80% in recent decades while at the same time 90% of the shark meet consumed in San José’s Central Market comes from this species.

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    October 31, 2014 Costa Rica will support the inclusion of hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini, Sphyrna mokarran) in Appendix II and Egypt’s proposal to include silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis) in Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). The announcement was released Thursday during...