MCS adds voice in welcoming moves to ramp up protection of endangered species

Jack Versiani Holt By: Jack Versiani Holt, Clare Fischer
Date posted: 27 October 2017

Moves to increase protection of species ranging from sharks to chimpanzees have been welcomed by wildlife campaigners including MCS.

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© Malcolm Nobbs / malcolmnobbs.com

We know that the site where we have been looking for sharks deserves greater protection, and regulation from unsustainable tourism. Boats should be licensed. Licenses should be restricted, and have heavy restrictions on interaction with the sharks. Such listings can help such measures be progressed

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt,
Principal Specialist, MPA

Governments look set to agree to international collaboration to protect dusky sharks, angel sharks, the common guitarfish, white-spotted wedgefish and the world’s most heavily fished shark, the blue shark. Countries taking part in the United Nations conference in the Philippines are also set to agree strict protection for whale sharks and their habitats.

The moves mean that countries have committed to greater international co-operation on protecting the wildlife they share.

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, MCS Principal Specialist, Marine Protected Areas says shark populations have plummeted alongside that of many other large fishes in the past century: “The UK has had a summer influx of blue sharks from North America for as long as science has been recording the species (and people have been fishing). Understanding that it is being more heavily protected is good news for such a spectacular species that needs international protection and management measures.”

Dr Solandt says that further protection of endangered sharks including the extremely rare angel shark, and wondrous whale shark can provide a real message to signatory states to ramp up protection, and create more effective measures to recover populations.

“Recent increase in catches of angel shark in Cardigan Bay shows that even with massive problems of bottom trawling, and ineffective Marine Protected Areas, endangered species in the seas can hang-on. Listing species on such international conventions, and subsequent pressure for management can eventually result in proper protection measures,” added Dr Solandt.

MCS says it hopes that forward-thinking government fisheries administrations will use such listings to ensure the species are given the space in the areas they frequent to avoid pressures of direct exploitation. In the case of whale sharks and angel sharks, where extensive tracking studies have been undertaken, wildlife hotspots can be managed as Marine Protected Areas.

Dr Solandt has been leading MCS work with the Maldives Whale Shark Research Project since 2011 to provide records of shark discoveries for their database, including identifying a new individual in 2011: “We know that the site where we have been looking for sharks deserves greater protection, and regulation from unsustainable tourism. Boats should be licensed. Licenses should be restricted, and have heavy restrictions on interaction with the sharks. Such listings can help such measures be progressed”

The International Fund for Animal Welfare welcomed the new commitments to protect threatened species, which need to be formally agreed by a final session of the meeting on Saturday 28th October.

And in a first for the Convention on Migratory Species, governments have voted in favour of a series of proposals, after failing to reach consensus, to improve protection for lions, leopards, chimpanzees and giraffes. Matthew Collis, Director of International Policy at IFAW: “This new commitment by world governments to enhance protection for African wildlife couldn’t have come at a more critical time; lion, leopard, giraffe and chimpanzee numbers are plummeting across the continent due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching and conflict with humans.” Dr Collis also said: “Many of the world’s sharks are in desperate need of protection; over-fishing, the relentless demand for shark fins and bycatch are just some of the threats facing sharks. For years, regional fisheries bodies have failed to take action to protect shark species. We hope this new commitment by countries from around the world will signal the beginning of renewed efforts to control shark fisheries and trade.”

Actions you can take

  1. Report your wildlife sightings
  2. Tell us about your Basking Shark sightings
  3. Browse Marine Protected Areas

Did you know?…

Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns

An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed

Basking sharks typically visit UK waters between May and October

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