On 14 September 2014 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix II listing of five shark species took effect. The listed species are:
- Sphyrna lewini - scalloped hammerhead shark
- Sphyrna mokarran - great hammerhead shark
- Sphyrna zygaena - smooth hammerhead shark
- Lamna nasus - porbeagle shark
- Carcharhinus longimanus - oceanic whitetip shark
This takes to eight the number of sharks listed under CITES Appendix II including the earlier listed basking shark, whale shark and great white shark. In the case of an Appendix II listing, a species may not be threatened with extinction; however international trade needs to be regulated to ensure it is not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild. The CITES Appendix II listing requires exporters or importers of product derived from the listed species to obtain a CITES permit.
Of the listed shark species, Australia only commercially exports hammerhead sharks (the scalloped, great and smooth) and only a small proportion in the global context.
Prior to approving a commercial export permit CITES requires that, where the export of an Appendix II listed species is proposed, the relevant Government agency from the country of export must determine that the activity will not be detrimental to, or contribute to trade which is detrimental to, the survival of the species. This is known as a ‘non-detriment finding’ which is implemented domestically through the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
2014 non-detriment finding for five shark species
Australia’s non-detriment finding for the five listed shark species is based on many sources of information including current and available information on each species’ range, population structure, status and stock assessments in Australian waters; an analysis of Australian commercial fisheries interacting with the listed species, including an assessment of existing management measures; and consideration of regional and global management measures, threats, stocks and harvests.
The Department has determined that while data is limited with regards to global stock sizes of these shark species, the findings and harvest levels in Australia’s non-detriment finding have been determined using the best available scientific information, by analysing current Australian harvest against global harvest and by assessing the risks associated with the management arrangements currently in place in Australian fisheries.
Australian national harvest levels for the listed shark species are:
- Scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) – 200 tonnes per year;
- Great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) – 100 tonnes per year;
- Smooth hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena) – 70 tonnes per year;
- Porbeagle (Lamna nasus) – Up to historic levels (2.5 tonnes per year) allowed to be landed domestically. No export allowed as this species is listed under Part 13 of the EPBC Act, and is excluded from approved wildlife trade operation declarations for Australian commercial fisheries;
- Oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus) – no harvest permitted (any harvest of this species would be considered detrimental to its survival).
If further information on individual species abundance, distribution and harvest becomes available through a review of trade data, ecological risk assessment or research, the harvest levels contained in this non-detriment finding may be reviewed. Through the improvement of reporting (down to species level) and research, the information basis for future non-detriment findings will improve over time.
The Department will continue to liaise with other CITES Parties in the development and sharing of non-detriment findings. Information on shared stocks will be incorporated to ensure the best available data underpins future harvest levels.