Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
Oceanic Whitetip Shark © Morten Bjorn.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments, which aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Species listed in CITES are not necessarily categorised as endangered.

Because the trade in wild animals and plants crosses borders between countries, the effort to regulate this trade requires international co-operation to safeguard certain species from over-exploitation. CITES was conceived in the spirit of such cooperation. Today, it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 30,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs.

The species listed under the CITES agreement are broken down into three categories, based on the status of their populations and therefore the level of monitoring required to sustain these species. The three categories are known as Appendix I, Appendix II and Appendix III.

The following elasmobranch (shark, skate and ray) species are listed under CITES:

  • Sawfish (Pristidae spp.) – Appendix I
  • Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus) – Appendix II
  • Great Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna mokarran) – Appendix II
  • Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna lewini) – Appendix II
  • Smooth Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna zygaena) – Appendix II
  • Giant Manta Ray (Manta birostris) – Appendix II
  • Porbeagle Shark (Lamna nasus) – Appendix II
  • Oceanic Whitetip Shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) – Appendix II
  • Reef Manta Ray (Manta alfredi) – Appendix II
  • White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) – Appendix II
  • Whale Shark (Rhindodon typus) – Appendix II

The Shark Trust was part of the ‘CITES7’ coalition, who advocated for listing, or up-listing, of additional shark and ray species on the CITES Appendices at the Conference of the Parties (CoP) in March 2013. The next CoP will take place in South Africa in 2016.

➤ Find out more about CITES CoP 2013.

CITES7 Coalition Logos.