Sharks need help from Australia in international meeting
Next week governments will gather in the Philippines to negotiate a landmark new international agreement to conserve migratory sharks under the UN Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS). HSI is concerned the level of ambition for the agreement may be too low, with some wanting to confine it to an agreement that only covers three shark species when many more species are in peril and lacking any other international agreement for their protection.
“International bodies worldwide are ringing alarm bells over the state of our migratory shark populations”, said Alexia Wellbelove of HSI. “HSI hopes that countries will not miss a rare opportunity to deliver a comprehensive international agreement to ensure sharks can be given the protection they deserve and are so badly lacking”.
The Australian Government was a driving force behind the inception of this international agreement, however HSI is now concerned that Australia is also content to see the agreement limited to the great white, whale and basking sharks, when four other shark species have also been listed by the UN convention as requiring international cooperation and many more are expected to be added in coming years as shark populations continue to plummet with serious repercussions for the health of marine ecosystems.
HSI is therefore calling on Australia, and all other governments, to ensure the agreement signed at next week’s meeting is comprehensive, covering all relevant shark species, and inclusive of provisions that will allow the agreement to become legally binding in the future. This is important, as voluntary agreements are not always given the urgency that is required to arrest the crisis migratory sharks are facing.
The meeting, the third of its kind, will be taking place from 8 – 12 February in Manila, Philippines. The aim of the meeting is to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Migratory Sharks, together with a more detailed Conservation and Management Plan. Alexia Wellbelove, HSI’s Program Officer will be representing HSI at this meeting, and is available for comment.
Note: The Australian Government has previously said the agreement should be confined to the great white, whale and basking sharks because they are ‘iconic’. There is no sound ecological, scientific or management basis for this distinction from other shark species.