Side Events at 28th SPREP Meeting: Conservation of Sharks in the Pacific

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in partnership with the Pew Charitable Trusts spoke about the leadership and voice of the Pacific to promote the conservation of sharks during a side event at the 28th SPREP Meeting in Apia yesterday.

Mr. Mike Donoghue, Threatened and Migratory Species Adviser for SPREP said: "Sharks are an important keystone species in the Pacific. Not only do they maintain the health of the oceans, but they also form an intrinsic part of many Pacific cultures and traditions. The sustainable and best practiced ecotourism operations occurring in places such as Fiji and Palau have demonstrated the economic value of healthy population of sharks in tourism. Studies in Palau have shown that the value of one live reef shark over its lifetime is estimated to bring US $1.9 million to the economy, but it is only worth $108 if it is caught and killed."

"Pacific governments were able to lead an initiative to successfully protect sharks and rays at the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 2016; and this year at the Twelfth Meeting of the Conference of the Party to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS COP12), six migratory species of sharks will be proposed for listing on CMS Appendices, with the government of Samoa proposing the listing of blue sharks on Appendix II," said Ms. Juney Ward, Shark and Ray Conservation Officer.

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SPREP Threatened and Migratory Species Adviser, Mr Michael Donoghue. Photo: SPREP

The Blue shark is one of the world's most highly migratory species and is commonly caught in commercial fisheries,both on the high seas and innational waters.

"With no international management measures in place for blue sharks and recognising that 40% of the fin trade is made up of blue shark fins, we need to have in place measures that will ensure that the population of these sharks is not threatened," said Ms. Maria Satoa, Principal Marine Conservation Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Samoa.

The listing on Appendix II of blue sharks is a joint proposal by the governments of Samoa and Sri Lanka. Ms Hanah Al-Samarie of the CMS Secretariat explained that when a species is listed on Appendix II of CMS, countries that are range states are required to collaborate to provide management and conservation measures to ensure that the species does not have an unfavourable conservation status.

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Participants taking part in discussions during the side event. Photo: SPREP

"It has been estimated that more than 20 million blue sharks are caught every year. This may be the biggest annual kill of wild vertebrates in the world, and international collaborative measures to ensure sustainability are urgently needed," said Mike Donoghue.

For more information, please contact Mr. Mike Donoghue at michaeld@sprep.org or Ms. Juney Ward at juneyw@sprep.org.

Presenters: Ms. Juney Ward – Shark and Ray Conservation Officer at SPREP, Ms. Maria Satoa – Principal Marine Conservation Officer, MNRE, Samoa, Ms. Hanah Al-Samaraie, Associate Capacity Building Officer, CMS Secretariat

Partners: SPREP, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Government of Samoa
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