Dear President Martinelli,
I am writing to ask for your support for an Appendix II listing for porbeagle, oceanic whitetip and hammerhead sharks at the March meeting of the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This is a critical opportunity to put badly-needed controls in place to halt the rapid decline of these top predators.
As you know, the fins of 26-73 million sharks pass through the Hong Kong fin market alone each year. And this market accounts for only half of the global fin trade.
Twenty-six species of shark are now endangered, and an additional 115 species are vulnerable or near threatened. Continuing shark declines pose a threat to the species' future, but also to the ocean ecosystems that depend on top predators to maintain an ecological balance.
Recently, in December 2012, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Expert Panel met and concluded that the shark species met the criteria for inclusion in Appendix II, and that the other two hammerhead species met the criteria for listing as "look-alikes". In addition, the 29th session of U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Committee on Fisheries showed that, "harvest-related measures and trade-related measures could and should be used in tandem, where appropriate, to ensure the successful management of sharks and stingrays". CITES listings will support and complement regional and national fishing management measures and will contribute to the implementation of the FAO International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks.
The support of the Panamanian Government would encourage many other nations to follow suit.
We urge you to exercise that leadership for the future of our oceans.