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Effort to control trade in great white sharks gets teeth from international community

Vilified in popular culture as a relentless man-eater, the great white shark finally received today global recognition as a persecuted species worthy of protection, as participants of the 13th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) adopted a proposal to improve management and monitoring of trade in jaws, teeth and fins from the world's largest predatory fish.

Led by the governments of Madagascar and Australia, the proposal to list the great white shark on Appendix II--which will provide key data on trade and allow better management of the species--was approved by a wide margin, with 87 in favor of listing, 34 opposed, with 9 abstentions. Proposals require two-thirds of those voting for approval.

"I'm thankful that the international community recognizes this species for what it really is--a perfectly adapted oceanic predator and a key player in many of the world's marine ecosystems," said Dr. Ramn Bonfil, a specialist on great white shark ecology and a conservation fisheries scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Dr. Bonfil, who is also a member of the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group and a strong proponent for the initiative to list great white sharks on CITES noted: "In spite of its reputed ferocity, this species is ironically a victim of what is undoubtedly the planet's most deadly species--humans. This listing will help us manage the trade that currently threatens the great white shark by requiring data that harvests are not a detriment to the species.

The listing of the great white shark is noteworthy in that fish species are rarely included in the CITES Appendices. Two shark species have thus far been listed: the whale shark, the largest of all fish species, growing up to eighteen meters in length (60 feet), and the second largest fish species, the basking shark. Both species are filter-feeders, and at risk from over-fishing.


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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
12-Oct-2004


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