Photo by the author.
International leaders recently met in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss amendments to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (known as CITES). In this 18th meeting of the 183 CITES members, many species gained new international protections against trade, including both species of mako sharks. Many experts saw this as the last chance to rescue makos – which are involved in the fin trade and spend their lives largely in open waters away from any one country’s jurisdiction – from irrecoverable decline.
Makos weren’t the only marine species given protection. Ongoing at CITES have been debates over whether to include marine species and if the treaty is meant for trade or conservation. The first question seems to be settled with protections for wedgefish and guitarfish as well this session, and rejection of Antigua and Barbuda’s proposal to stop marine species listings under CITES. While the second question will continue to be hashed out, this year’s CITES meeting has been a R.A.D. step forward for ocean conservation!