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CITES: Trade restrictions approved for endangered rays


The Hague, The Netherlands – Trade restrictions have been approved for critically endangered sawfish, large rays related to sharks.

Delegates attending a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)approved all seven sawfish species in Appendix I of the convention, banning all international commercial trade.

One species found in Australia was included in Appendix II, but only to allow trade in live animals to public aquaria for conservation purposes only.

Sawfish are traded for their fins, meat, unique toothed rostra (snouts), and as live animals for exhibition.

Their distinctive saw-like snouts are sold as souvenirs, curios and ceremonial weapons, while other body parts such as skin, liver oil and bile are used in traditional medicines.

“We are relieved that international trade pressure will be lifted for these critically endangered species,” said Steven Broad, Director of TRAFFIC. “Trade, along with fishing pressure, was pushing them towards extinction.”

CITES Parties defeated proposals last week to list two shark species in CITES Appendix II, which would have allowed international trade with required stricter regulation to ensure trade is sustainable.

“The sawfish have disappeared from waters stretching from the east coast of the US to South-east Asia,” said Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF’s Global Species Programme.

“This is a positive action today but it is a pity that the CITES Parties are only able to throw a lifeline to shark species when they are on the brink of extinction”.


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