On the 12th of May 2004, Madagascar and Australia proposed the Great White Shark for Appendix II listing at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The White Shark Trust fully supports this proposal for Appendix II listing.

Why is this so important?

Since 2001, research findings, first from DNA and then from satellite transmitters, have indicated that the worldwide Great White Shark population is not subdivided into sub-populations around the different continents as previously believed by most people, but instead really seems to be one global population. A DNA study has shown that at least male White Sharks seem to move between South Africa and Australia. Satellite tagging in South Africa has shown that White Sharks swim fast and far, leaving the protected waters of South Africa into Mozambique. Similar satellite tagging in California and Mexico has shown that White Sharks swim all the way to Hawaii, and in Australia, White Sharks go to Tasmania as another example.

Fortunately, White Sharks are protected in the key areas (at least the ones we know of) around the world: South Africa, Namibia, California, Malta and southern Australia. But we now know that these Sharks are capable of swimming far distances in relatively short periods of time (e.g. more than 3000km in less than four months), and leave the protected waters of those countries which have decided to protect them through their national legislations. So it is extremely important for White Sharks to be protected on an international level, and CITES provides a forum for this protection to become reality.

We hope that this proposal will be accepted at the 13th Meeting of the Conference of Parties in October in Bangkok, Thailand.

Above A near-real time SPOT satellite transmitter is mounted on the side of the dorsal fin to track the White Shark's movement in details;

Below A PAT satellite transmitter is about to be harpooned on a White Shark to get some information on distant movement patterns of White Sharks;

You can help!

Write to the representatives of your country and tell them how important it is to support this proposal.

You can find the contact references for the representation of your country here.

Why should this proposal be refused?

This is a good question... After all, White Sharks have never really been targetted by the commercial fisheries, but rather by rich (and stupid) recreational trophy hunters, anti-Shark protective nets (in South Africa, although White Sharks have been protected since 1991, White Sharks are still caught and killed every year in the nets that "protect" the beaches of the coast of Durban), and by-catch.

White Shark jaws and fins have always represented a very small and exclusive market, so why would any country really reject this proposal? Well... Unfortunately, politics have a lot to do with the process... Some countries may fear that more and more Shark species will be proposed for listing in the future, following the Whale Shark and Basking Shark listing in 2002. Other countries will just reject the proposal because we are talking about the "Jaws" Shark... and then again, another country, Japan, will just reject it or put a reservation in the vote, because they do not believe in protecting animals or plants (Japan actually wants to de-list the Minke Whale from Appendix I to Appendix II at the next CITES meeting - I guess they do not catch and kill enough Whales as it is from their "scientific" whaling mission)...

CITES will not stop the accidental by-catch unfortunately, nor the trophy hunting fishing, nor the anti-Shark nets... BUT a listing on the CITES Appendix II will allow for SERIOUS control and STOP the illegal trade and traffic of White Sharks jaws, teeth and fins, thus slowing the open market available today for these items. As an example, just visit eBay where hundreds of White Shark jaws and teeth are available to the highest bidder on the open market...

So please, contact your national representation at CITES and ask them to please support this proposal, which, if successive, will not affecting their fisheries or their economy in any way!

Press release

12 May 2004, Geneva – The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has received over 50 proposals from its member governments to adjust the rules governing the international trade in various wildlife species.

The proposals offer detailed arguments on how to improve the conservation and sustainable use of the African elephant, the minke whale, the great white shark, various tropical birds, trees and orchids, numerous turtle species, the southern white rhinoceros, two species of crocodile, the bald eagle, several medicinal plants and many other species.

Governments will accept, reject or adjust these proposals for amending the CITES Appendices at a conference in Bangkok from 2 – 14 October. These Appendices list species that are at risk and whose import and export is controlled through a permit system (Appendix II) and species that are already endangered and that may not be commercially traded (Appendix I).

The African elephant is a regular feature of the CITES agenda. Following a 1989 ban on the international ivory trade, CITES permitted some one-off sales in 1997 and again in 2002. The 2002 sales from Botswana (20 tonnes), Namibia (10 tonnes) and South Africa (30 tonnes) have not yet occurred pending the establishment of baseline data on poaching and populations.

Namibia has now submitted a proposal for an annual export quota of two tonnes of ivory. Both Namibia and South Africa are proposing to trade elephant leather commercially in addition to ivory.

Japan is recommending that three populations of minke whale be transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II. CITES currently forbids any international trade in whale products. Madagascar and Australia propose adding the great white shark to Appendix II. No sharks were included in Appendix II until two years ago, when the whale shark and the basking shark were added.

Marine and freshwater turtles and land tortoises are under various degrees of threat around the world, and many are already listed in the CITES Appendices. Six additional species are now proposed for inclusion in Appendix II. They are the soft-shelled pig-nosed turtle, McCord’s snake-necked turtle, the Malayan flat-shelled turtle, the Malayan snail-eating turtle, the Asian soft-shelled turtle and the flyriver turtle. In addition, the Malagasy spider tortoise is being proposed for Appendix I.

Sea animals on the agenda in Bangkok will include the humphead wrasse (a large and valuable reef fish occurring in the Indo-Pacific), south-east Asia’s Irrawaddy dolphin and the Mediterranean date mussel. Birds will include the yellow-crested cockatoo, the lilac-crowned parrot, the peach-faced lovebird and the painted bunting.

One of the new proposals recommends transferring the African lion from Appendix II to Appendix I. Other proposals call for easing the trade restrictions on the bald eagle and the southern white rhinoceros and introducing the permit system. The US proposes removing the bobcat, now on Appendix II, from the CITES regime.

Three proposals concern crocodiles. Cuba proposes to transfer the Cuban crocodile from Appendix I to Appendix II. Namibia would like to do the same for its national population of the Nile crocodile. Zambia, whose population of the Nile crocodile is already listed on Appendix II, is now requesting an annual export quota of no more than 548 wild specimens.

Madagascar proposes adding the leaf-necked geckos and the coloured serpent – considered the country’s most spectacular snake – to CITES via Appendix II. Kenya proposes the same listing for two species of viper.

The plant proposals would introduce Appendix II permit requirements for Asia’s commercially valuable agarwood and ramin trees plus a number of Asian trees belonging to the Taxus genus. Also on the agenda are an orchid from Colombia and a cactus from southern Africa.

The CITES Secretariat will now review and analyse all of the proposals it has received. It will publish its preliminary technical and scientific assessment of the proposals together with its preliminary recommendations in early June.

Thousands of species around the world are endangered as a result of human activities such as habitat destruction, poaching, over-harvesting, and pollution. CITES was adopted in 1973 to address the threat posed by just one of these activities: unsustainable international trade. To date, some 166 countries have become Parties to the treaty, making it one of the world's most important agreements on species conservation and non-detrimental use of wildlife.

Even after commercial fishing and the timber industry are set aside, the international trade in wildlife is big business, estimated to be worth billions of dollars annually and to involve more than 350 million plant and animal specimens every year. Unregulated international trade can push threatened and endangered species over the brink, especially when combined with habitat loss and other pressures.

CITES accords varying degrees of protection to some 30,000 plant and animal species depending on their biological status and the impact that international trade may have upon them. Appendix I contains fewer than 600 animal species and a little more than 300 plant species, whereas Appendix II covers over 4,100 animal species and 28,000 plant species – seven times as many animal species and ninety times more plant species. Appendix III, which includes species that are protected within the borders of a member country, lists over 290 species.

Note to journalists: The proposals can be viewed at here. For more information, contact Juan-Carlos Vasquez at +41-22-917-8156 or juan.vasquez@unep.ch, or Michael Williams at +41-79-409-1528 (cell), +41-22-917-8242 (office), or michael.williams@unep.ch.

Download the Great White Shark Proposal here.

Above White Shark teeth sold in a curioshop

Below White Sharks caught as by-catch