Target: Thai Government
Goal: Increase protection for sharks and manta rays by passing proposals to regulate trade and consumption of these species
The 16th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to be hosted soon by Thailand, has a long list of endangered species including elephants and rhinoceroses that require increased protection in order to survive. The listing of three shark species and four manta ray species as part of CITES Appendix II, however, has garnered somewhat less attention though they are no less crucial than larger land mammals. These marine species are categorized under Appendix II as “threatened” species, meaning that they are not immediately endangered, but are highly likely to become so if trade regulation is not increased. Unfortunately, the Thai government has expressed its apathy towards these animals, going so far as to state that they are unlikely to pass proposals to increase protection for sharks and manta rays simply because it may hurt their economy.
Shark fin soup, a delicacy more widely popular in areas of China has spread to Thai culture. This, and other factors, has led to increased fishing of sharks in Thailand. However, Fisheries Department chief Wimol Jantrarotai refuses to acknowledge this fact, stating that Thailand already has protections set in place such as banning fishing near shores and enforcing a three month long ban of all fishing during mating season. He goes on to express the concern that accepting proposals to protect sharks could hurt fishermen who may accidentally catch sharks in their nets. However, the fact remains that the slaughter of sharks is continuing at an unsustainable rate. Because these animals mature at a slow rate and reproduce later and less often, they are unable to keep up with the rate at which they are being fished.
Another crucial proposal that Thailand has stated it will oppose involves measures to protect manta rays. The opposition to these measures stems from the fear that such regulation may hurt ornamental fish breeding, a common practice in the area. According to Wimol, Thailand has “imported breeder fishes [manta rays] from Latin America and exported… bred fishes to the Middle East,” and passing proposals to protect manta rays could negatively affect this trade. It is clear, much like in the case of threatened sharks, that Thailand’s main concern regarding these marine species is economic rather than environmental. This mindset can lead to a slippery slope resulting in the permanent loss of valuable species. Encourage Thailand, as the host country for CITES, to set the right tone for other countries to follow by choosing to pass proposals to protect threatened sharks and manta rays.
Dear Fisheries Department chief Wimol Jantrarotai,
The protection of wild species is one of the main goals of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. This includes not only those species that are already severely endangered, but those facing potential endangerment as well. Thailand’s sharks and manta rays are currently threatened, and in order to ensure their continual success as species, regulating and limiting the trade of these animals is absolutely necessary.
Please reconsider your stance on protecting the three shark species and four manta ray species at the upcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and help to preserve these animals for future generations.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Wikipedia