Commend Mediterranean Countries for Granting Critical Protection to Sharks and Rays

Target: Member Countries of the Barcelona Convention

Goal: Show support for the European Union’s decision to grant critical protection to vulnerable shark and ray species.

Various species of sharks have essentially vanished from parts of the Mediterranean Sea where they once were common due to overfishing. Now, after repeated delays on the part of the European Commission, 10 species of vulnerable sharks and rays have finally been granted the legal protection they need to survive. Applaud the Barcelona Convention for recognizing that marine species deserve the same protection as other threatened wildlife.

Scientists estimate that in the last century ten shark species, including hammerheads, tope, and shortfin mako, have declined by as much as 99%. After marine conservation advocates worked tirelessly to push for legal protections to halt the rapid decline of these species, in February of 2012 almost all the member countries of the Barcelona Convention agreed to grant them protection–all except the European Union.

Finally, at this month’s gathering, the European Commission took the final step needed to formalize the legal protection of the 10 shark and ray species. While all of these species are threatened by overfishing, the decision to protect these marine animals is of particular significance because four of the 10 species are critically endangered. The 10 sharks and rays will now be joining other highly threatened shark species that are already protected under the Barcelona Convention, including great white sharks, basking sharks, and angel sharks.

The 10 species will now be listed under Annex II of the Barcelona Convention, which requires Mediterranean countries to cooperate to ensure the species are truly protected so they can recover. Efforts must include controlling or prohibiting their capture and sale, prohibiting damage to their habitat, and adopting measures for their conservation and recovery. In order to effectively protect the species from overfishing and habitat degradation, the countries must first identify exactly where these species are in the Mediterranean. Once the research has been done, the challenge will be to find sustainable solutions to the major threats that they face.

Sign the petition below to applaud the member countries of the Barcelona Convention for granting the legal protection the sharks and rays require to survive, and remind them to continue taking the necessary steps to ensure the protection is effective.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Member Country of the Barcelona Convention,

I am writing to commend your decision to list the 10 most threatened species of sharks and rays, including hammerheads, tope, and shortfin mako, under Annex II of the Barcelona Convention. I applaud you for recognizing that marine species deserve the same protection as other threatened wildlife. While all of these species are threatened by overfishing, the decision to protect these marine animals is of particular significance because four of the 10 species are critically endangered.

Passing this legal measure is of no doubt of utmost importance, yet I urge you to take the necessary next steps to ensure protection is actually effective. All Mediterranean countries must cooperate to ensure the species are truly protected so they can recover. Efforts must include controlling or prohibiting their capture and sale, prohibiting damage to their habitat, and adopting measures for their conservation and recovery. In order to effectively protect the species from overfishing and habitat degradation, the countries must first identify exactly where these species are in the Mediterranean. While this may be a challenge, it is absolutely necessary in order to find sustainable solutions to the major threats that they face.

Once again, I thank you for giving the sharks and rays a fighting chance by passing the legal measures they need to survive. Please do all you can to make sure they successfully recover.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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