Sharks and Rays Get a Boost
Better protection for sharks and rays is finally on the way. In March, CITES member nations voted to list the oceanic whitetip shark, three species of hammerhead sharks (scalloped, smooth, and great), the porbeagle shark, and both species of manta rays under CITES Appendix II. With that listing, sharks and rays can still be exported, but permits will be required. Countries can only issue permits if fishers prove they are taking these sharks at legal and "sustainable" rates, which, considering the drastic decline of sharks in recent years, might be hard to do.
Shark and ray protection is also gaining ground in Indonesia.CORAL's years of work supporting marine protected areas in Raja Ampat has helped lead to the passage of new laws. The Regency of Raja Ampat had declared its offshore waters a marine megafauna sanctuary, including sharks and mantas, in 2010, but in March, it made the decree a regency-level law. The new law was announced at symposiums in Waisai, the capitol of the Raja Ampat Regency, and Jakarta, the capitol of Indonesia. Leaders in Raja Ampat are now calling for other regions to emulate their actions.
"This is an important step for fisheries management in Indonesia," says CORAL Triangle Regional Manager Naneng Setiasih. "Because sharks and rays reproduce so slowly, experts believe there is no such thing as a sustainable shark or manta fishery. Plus, these animals generate income from tourism far beyond their value in the fish market, income that many local communities are benefitting from. Having the right policies in place helps us speed up the process of supporting the fishers and the local community."
Read more in The Jakarta Post.