Just this past week, 126 countries signed a cross-border conservation pact to provide extra protection to migratory species, regardless of what countries they wander into.
This is particularly good news for whale sharks. They are aptly named; at 40 feet or more, whale sharks are the largest fish in the world. They are also vulnerable, and their numbers have been declining over the past few years. The signatories at the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) added them to the convention’s appendix I, which promises to protect their habitats and to prevent them from being captured or killed. That means the whale sharks will be protected when they migrate to offshore “hotspots” like Madagascar, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Peru.
Other shark species are now protected under Appendix II, which requires countries within their migratory range work together to help protect them. For example, they will have to ban finning and regulate fishing. This decision is particularly good news for blue sharks, which are the most highly fished sharks in the world; 20 million are taken each year. Blue sharks are also migratory and are thus vulnerable to fisheries all over the world. Putting them on Appendix II means countries will have to collaborate in protecting them.
Other sharks placed on Appendix II include angelsharks, dusky sharks, common guitarfish, and white-spotted wedgefish.
Four countries, Brazil, Benin, Ecuador, and Sri Lanka, joined the shark memorandum of understanding bringing the total membership to 46. The shark memorandum is an ad hoc agreement to work together to protect sharks.
Leopards and lions were among the land animals added to appendix II. Lack of cooperation between countries had weakened earlier conservation agreements. Consequently, the lion population had declined by 40 percent over the last 20 years to just 20,000.