Help Save The Whitetip Shark From Extinction

Oceanic whitetip sharks - one of the most recognizable sharks in the ocean - have undergone significant population declines fueled by a global demand for their large, highly valued fins. In the Gulf of Mexico, oceanic whitetip populations have declined by 99 percent in just over four decades.

Please urge your members of Congress and the Secretary of the Interior to take action to protect oceanic whitetip sharks.

The US has indicated that it might propose international trade protection for the oceanic whitetip shark at the upcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but so far no proposal has been submitted, and the October 4 deadline is fast approaching.

Act now; your voice is critical to ensure that the United States protects the whitetip sharks before they disappear forever!
Dear Decision Makers,

The global demand for shark fins, meat, liver oil, and other products has driven numerous shark populations to the brink of extinction. Their life history characteristics, such as slow growth, late maturation, and production of few offspring, make sharks particularly vulnerable to overfishing and slow to recover from decline.

In particular, global populations of oceanic whitetip sharks have fallen significantly. They are listed as Critically Endangered in the Northwest and Central Atlantic Ocean, and Vulnerable globally, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. In the Gulf of Mexico, scientists estimate that oceanic whitetip populations have dropped by 99 percent in just over four decades.

Although a few countries and regional fisheries management organizations have started to take steps to address the worldwide oceanic whitetip decline, these measures do not have the global reach that a listing under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) would have in helping this vulnerable species. The next opportunity to protect additional species under CITES will be in March 2013 in Bangkok.

The United States proposed listing the oceanic whitetip at the last CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP), but it narrowly missed being adopted. A U.S. oceanic whitetip proposal for the March CoP could help protect an extremely vulnerable shark species and would be noncontroversial in the United States, considering that only $1,057 worth of oceanic whitetip landings have been reported to the National Marine Fisheries Service in the past decade. Although the clock is ticking, the U.S. government has not formally announced its intentions for the upcoming CITES CoP.

I am writing to urge you to ensure that the United States submits a proposal to list oceanic whitetip sharks on Appendix II of CITES and to do so far enough in advance of the Oct. 4 deadline to allow other governments to co-sponsor it.

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