NATION

Fiji Leads Way In Marine Conservation

Fiji made history this month by becoming the first Pacific Island country to propose global trade restrictions on sharks and rays to ensure their survival. The Fiji delegation to the
27 Oct 2016 11:00
Fiji Leads Way In Marine Conservation
Some Fiji’s CITES delegation Ian Campbell (left) from WWF, Aisake Batibasaga (Ministry of Fisheries) with other delegates. (photo credit_WWF Canon)

Fiji made history this month by becoming the first Pacific Island country to propose global trade restrictions on sharks and rays to ensure their survival.

The Fiji delegation to the Conservation of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), travelled to Johannesburg in South Africa to call for trade sanctions for threatened species of mobula rays (also known as Devil Rays), as well as thresher sharks, silky sharks and the ancient living fossil, the nautilus.

Devil Rays are under threat from overfishing, where they are caught for their gill plates, which are prized in Asian markets for unproven medicinal purposes.

Ian Campbell, World Wide Fund for Nature’s Global Shark programme manager, who was the technical adviser to the Fiji delegation, commended efforts the Government put in to ensure such a positive result.

“Getting the Devil Rays protected from unsustainable trade is a fantastic achievement, and the government of Fiji must be praised for their leadership and commitment on this important issue.

“Sharks and rays are not only vital for the critical roles they play in the environment and fisheries, but they are a central pillar in Pacific Island cultures, not just in Fiji, but right throughout the South Pacific,” Mr Campbell said.

Prior to the CITES meeting,  representatives from the Fisheries and Environment ministries  in Fiji worked together to convince nearly fifty other countries, including every member state of the European Union, to back their proposal to include the Devil Rays, a close relative of the Manta Ray, in Appendix II of the CITES convention.

Fiji’s proposal was also supported by delegates from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.Fiji’s bid broke the record for the number of countries co-sponsoring a single proposal in CITES’ 41 year history.

Led by Aisake Batibasaga from the Ministry of Fisheries; the delegation was supported by Eleni Tokaduadua from the Department of Environment and Unaisi Rabici (also from the ministry).

Mr Batibasaga was grateful for the support from across the globe for their proposal to protect mobula rays, which are “being fished towards extinction”.

Source: WWF Pacific

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