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UN wildlife conference enhances intergovernmental cooperation to safeguard sharks

Governments combat the overexploitation of sharks as their commercial value increases

Bonn/Manila, 12 February 2010 - A new landmark agreement to counteract the alarming decline of sharks was concluded on Friday under the auspices of the UNEP administered Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). Government representatives meeting in Manila, Philippines, agreed on the text of a Memorandum of Understanding on the conservation of migratory sharks.

At the meeting, delegates agreed to include all seven shark species in the CMS appendices under this agreement: the Great White, Basking, Whale, Porbeagle, Spiny Dogfish, Shortfin and Longfin Mako Sharks. They are to benefit from better international protection by fishing nations through reduction of threats, in particular illegal fishing and trade, by enforcing existing laws.

CMS Executive Secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema said: "This first global CMS instrument on commercially exploited species is a decisive step forward in international shark conservation. Wildlife Conventions, UN Agencies and international fisheries need to work together to prevent these creatures that roam the world's oceans from becoming extinct."

The goal of the CMS agreement is the restoration and long term viability of populations of migratory sharks covered by the instrument. A conservation and management plan was thoroughly discussed as a first step towards international cooperation on the protection of sharks. By signing this agreement, countries have expressed their willingness to conserve the endangered shark species covered under this agreement.

According to the IUCN Red List 2010, 17% of 1,044 shark species are threatened. At present, our knowledge of about 47% of shark species is too limited to even assess if they are threatened.



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