GENEVA—Critically endangered giant guitarfish and wedgefish rays have a better chance against extinction thanks to international trade controls agreed today at the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting.
Governments reached agreement in a decisive vote on Appendix II listings on proposals for six species of giant guitarfish and ten species of wedgefish. They were each co-sponsored by record breaking numbers of countries, led by Senegal and Sri Lanka.
CITES Appendix II listings means trade in the species’ meat and fins in these critically endangered species must now be regulated. White-spotted wedgefish made up the highest percentage of species in the Singapore fin trade in a recent study.
Rebecca Regnery, Humane Society International wildlife senior director, says: “Over-fishing, including for the lucrative Asian shark fin market, is having a devastating impact on guitarfish and wedgefish. New estimates show that guitarfishes and wedgefishes are already Critically Endangered so the deadly consequence of this trade cannot be overestimated.
Regnery intervened in the debate on behalf of the marine NGO community and said: “When most people think about sharks, they forget about or perhaps do not even know about the flat-bodied species like the giant guitarfishes. Yet these are some of the most valuable and under-protected shark-like species found in trade. And because of that, their populations have been seriously depleted worldwide.”
Humane Society International strongly commends the more than 60 governments led by Senegal and Sri Lanka who co-sponsored the guitarfish and wedgefish proposals and brought them this much needed protection. They join two species of mako shark listed earlier today.