Cebuano marine conservationists are calling on the international community to include thresher sharks in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) this September.
Based on its website, CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
The discussion yesterday between Save Philippine Seas, Greenpeace, Migo sa Iho organization, Cebu Provincial Government, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-7 resulted to an agreement of supporting the proposal to enlist thresher sharks on CITES Appendix II.
Efforts from the provincial and local government and non-government organizations strengthens the proposal of including thresher sharks in Apendix II of CITES but it needs a strong backbone support from the National Government.
Appendix II includes species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
Anna Oposa of Save Philippine Seas admitted that there are challenges in this cause.
Oposa mentioned during the discussion that organizations and people involved should re-enforce its information, education and communication campaign.
Two weeks ago, a letter of support was submitted to BFAR-7 asking for the bureau’s support regarding their campaign.
Regional Director Andres Bojos of BFAR-7 said that they will support the cause but research and studies are also needed to further provide a regulation for the species.
“Since the province has ordered an ordinance listing these sharks to be protected, we are also calling on the other provinces to support this advocacy and finally we are bringing it to the national level,” said Vince Cinches of Greenpeace Philippines.
Some people shows fear to these sharks especially the local tourists but Cinches explained that these sharks are not life-threatening and expressed hopes that more tourists will come to dive in Malapascua.
Daanbantayan has declared its municipal waters as a protected area through an Executive Order of Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro specifically declaring Monad shoal and Gato islet a shark and ray sanctuary last June 2015.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Government of Cebu has been leading in shark conservation, even legislating Provincial Resolution No. 691-2010 and Provincial Ordinance No. 2012-05 which bans the capture, killing, transport, and selling of sharks all over the province.
To date, the Philippines is the only country in the world that is proud to boast of having a thresher shark dive tourism industry specifically in Malapascua island.
These marine species are spotted in the monad shoal in Malapascua way back in 1990’s and believed to be their natural cleaning station. Just in the recent year, it was also believed that it has become a breeding ground for sharks and manta rays.
Scientifically, sharks are at the top of food chain and they maintain a good balance of the populations of other fish in the ecosystem.
With the presence of these species, the tourism industry in Malapascua flourished which positively affects the life of the residents. This economic opportunity provided a living for the people around the area, including dive instructors, tour guides, souvenir shops and many more. CLDR / Evangeline Moya (CNU AB English Intern)