PANAMA CITY, Panama (November 13, 2022) – The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), IFAW, Blue Resources Trust and Humane Society International (HSI) applaud the Government of Panama for its leadership in proposing major new protections for sharks at the upcoming 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP19), which runs from November 14-25th in Panama City.

Panama is leading an effort, co-sponsored by more than 40 other CITES Party governments, to list all requiem sharks on CITES Appendix II, and cosponsoring another family-level listing proposal from the European Union for the small-bodied hammerhead sharks at CoP19.

International trade is the major threat to these families of sharks. The proportional volume of Requiem shark species in the global fin trade could be as high as 85.5 percent. Bonnethead sharks, a small-bodied hammerhead, have also been detected in retail fin markets in Hong Kong.

This Appendix II proposal would bring the majority of the shark fin trade under CITES Appendix II regulation, which helps ensure that trade is sustainable and legal.

Together with the listings over the last decade at CITES CoP16, 17 and 18, the adoption of these two proposals will require the regulation of the vast majority of the global trade in shark fins for the first time – the minimum step needed to secure a future for these species given the ongoing global collapse of the world’s shark populations, due to over-exploitation.

New research has shown that 37 percent of shark species are now threatened with extinction, the second highest threatened percentage among vertebrate groups on the planet. Newly available data indicates that we are quickly approaching a conservation tipping point for sharks and rays.

The family level listing approach for requiem and hammerhead sharks is essential as visual and genetic ID of traded products is simplest at the family level, and ease of ID across so many species threatened by international trade is essential for countries with limited customs enforcement capacity. Earlier this year, WCS produced a visual ID guide for custom officials to more easily identify illegal shark products with funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. This guide, and a range of other tools that will be launched in Panama aid governments worldwide in the implementation of these listings, if they are adopted.

But to secure these listings two thirds of the governments in attendance at CITES CoP19 will need to vote in favor of the shark listing proposals, and Panama is calling on other countries attending CoP19 to support its example as hosts:

“These proposals are to protect sharks globally from the terrible threat of the fin trade, and are Panama's top priority at our CITES CoP19. We are welcoming more than one hundred nations to join us in Panama for this historic meeting, and we hope all of them will help us create the change these species need by adopting these measures,” stated Milciades Concepción, Minister of Environment of Panama

“This ambitious effort to fully regulate the deeply unsustainable trade in shark fins is long overdue, and thanks to the leadership of Panama and the 40 governments already supporting their proposal, there is a chance to make real change at CoP19; we urge governments the world over to support it,” said Matthew Collis, Deputy Vice President, IFAW

“If adopted, Panama’s proposal will be the most significant policy action ever enacted for these ancient ocean predators – and could be the step that helps prevent trade from driving their extinction,” added Luke Warwick, Director of Shark Conservation, WCS.

Panama’s leadership in protecting the marine environment continues with Our Ocean 2023 – a gathering of heads of state, private sector, civil society, and academic institutions to discuss how we can save our marine resources and educate the public about our ocean.  

As countries are currently gathered at UN Framework Convention on Climate Change CoP27 in Egypt, and will gather in December in Montreal at the Convention on Biological Diversity CoP15 in Montreal, CITES is key to marine biodiversity, and is the only intergovernmental forum that can tackle decisions on stopping the unsustainable exploitation and trade of wildlife, from sharks to elephants.

Learn more about WCS’s efforts at CITES CoP19:

Learn more about WCS’s work to protect sharks, skates and rays:


WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242. Listen to the WCS Wild Audio podcast HERE.

IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)  IFAW is a global non-profit helping animal and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at 

Blue Resources Trust aim to promote informed science based decision making to facilitate the sustainable use of marine resources. We believe in promoting education and awareness and encouraging greater participation of local communities in conservation. Our team has extensive experience working in Sri Lanka and internationally, and has built partnerships with numerous national and international organizations. Blue Resources Trust also acts as a platform for scientists and conservationists to expand research and improve marine resource management in Sri Lanka and the greater region.

Humane Society International: Advancing the welfare of animals in more than 50 countries, Humane Society International works around the globe to promote the human-animal bond, rescue and protect dogs and cats, improve farm animal welfare, protect wildlife, promote animal-free testing and research, respond to natural disasters and confront cruelty to animals in all its forms.