PETALING JAYA: Malaysia opposed an international resolution to protect certain species of sharks and rays from exploitation because they are not targeted species, says the Fisheries Department.
All the marine species listed in the proposal, such as the Mako sharks (Isurus oxyrinchus and Isurus paucus), Guitarfishes (Guitarfishes) and Rhinidae spp (Wedgefishes), were not targeted species but were actually by-catch, it said in a statement on Wednesday (Aug 28).
“In this case, the population will not be affected by exploitation and trade of those species, ” the Fisheries Department added.
The statement was issued after it was reported that Malaysia was among 40 countries that voted against the proposal tabled at the 18th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP18) For Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) on Sunday (Aug 25) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Malaysia’s stance to oppose the inclusion of those marine species in the Appendix II CITES was made after garnering views from shark experts in the Asian region and a recommendation from the Fisheries Department.
“The listing of those species in the Appendix II CITES was discussed by fisheries experts at the Regional Consultation on for Development of the Asean-Seadec Common Position on the Proposed Listing of Commercially-exploited Aquatic Species into the CITES Appendices meeting, which took place on January 30 to January 31 in Bangkok, Thailand.
“Following the discussion, the stance of Asean countries regarding the listing was then discussed at the 15th Asean Working Group on CITES and Wildlife Enforcement meeting, which took place from April 2 to April 4 in Sandakan, Sabah.
“In the meeting, the majority of Asean countries unanimously agreed to oppose the proposal put forward by countries like Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Gambia and Senegal, ” it said.
The listing of commercially exploited aquatic species which did not meet the criteria for listing as set by CITES could not be supported for listing in the CITES Appendix, said the Fisheries Department.
The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) panel of expert advisers, including the CITES secretariat, were of the stance that Mako Sharks (Isurus oxyrinchus and Isurus paucus) were unsuitable to be listed because they did not fulfil the criteria that had been set in line with Article II, paragraph 2(a) or 2(b) in the CITES Convention.
Meanwhile, the suggestion to list the Guitarfishes (Guitarfishes) and Rhinidae spp. (Wedgefishes) species was not accompanied by concrete proof for the UN FAO panel of expert advisers to make an accurate assessment, said the Fisheries Department.
CITES is an international agreement between governments with the aim to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants do not threaten their survival.
"Three main things that CITES stress upon is legality, sustainability and traceability. Each listing must fulfil the criteria that has been set and not only by looking at the angle of merely conservation," said the Fisheries Department.
Although not listed in the CITES Appendix, certain species including sharks could however be managed with specific management measures, including under the National Plan of Action for Sharks (NPOA-Shark), it added.
It was reported that on Sunday (Aug 25) that 40 countries, including Malaysia, voted against the proposal which aimed to strengthen protection for 18 species of sharks and rays.
Meanwhile, 102 countries voted in favour of the move, which sought to impose rules on sustainable trade of the 18 species.
Malaysia was represented at the high-level COP18 CITES conference by the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry.