PADI and the PADI AWARE foundation are representing the dive commmunity at this year’s Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) meeting, currently being held in Panama. PADI is calling on members of the public to sign a petition to help put pressure on attendees to vote in favour of increased protections.
The invitation was extended by the host nation, Panama, for PADI to provide specialist advice to attending government representatives to help secure support for a critical vote to double the amount of protected shark and ray species.
The invitation follows in the success of PADI’s participation in a collaborative effort with the Shark Trust and Shark League, which resulted in two-year moritorium on the catching and retention of Atlantic shortfin mako sharks at the last meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).
Protecting sharks is part of PADI’s ‘Blueprint for Ocean Action’ which aims to reduce the sharks and rays facing extinction by 25 per cent over the next decade. To date, PADI has already helped secure protection measures for 51 species of sharks and rays, with the goal of protecting 54 more in the next three years.
More about shark conservation
‘Sharks are critical to our world’s largest and most important ecosystem, keeping our oceans in healthy balance for more than 450 million years,’ said said Ian Campbell, Associate Director of Policy and Campaigns at the PADI AWARE Foundation. ‘Over a third of all species of sharks and rays are facing extinction in our lifetime. PADI is taking action by representing our passionate community of Ocean Torchbearers at international arenas like CITES where real-life decisions are made.’
CITES is a United Nations agreement which limits the international trade of species vulnerable to extinction, and is binding across 184 countries.There are currently 46 marine species and 23 freshwater species protected under CITES, and this year, governments in attendance will be voting on the protection of more than 50 species of sharks.
Two-thirds of the governmnet attendees are required to vote in favour of the proposal – which include restrictions on the international trade in shark meat and fins – in order for the prtections to be established.
‘This CITES meeting is turning out to be one of the most important for sharks ever. The proposals put forward include most of the species that make up the shark fin trade, and that attract tourists to dive sites all over the world,’ said Campbell. ‘CITES only comes around once every three years, so we must grab this opportunity before these sharks disappear from our favourite spots forever.’
CITES is being held between 14-23 November – the petition to support the increased protections for sharks and rays is available at this link. Formore information about PADI’s work to protect sharks, visit www.padi.com/aware/cites