A leading environmental organization is asking its supporters to sign a petition urging Costa Rica’s environmental minister, Edgar Gutiérrez, to support an international proposal to better manage and conserve global populations of silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis).
The initiative is being led by Egypt and its proposal to include silkies in Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. The proposal will be voted on in Quito, Ecuador Nov. 4 to 9. Approval would require the convention’s member states to develop conservation instruments that address the species’ declining population trends.
The environmental organization is the Programa Restauración de Tiburones y Tortugas Marinas.
The silky shark’s population throughout the Eastern Pacific and in Costa Rican national waters has declined an estimated 80 percent over the last few decades. Despite being the most heavily exploited shark species in Costa Rica by commercial fisheries, the country has yet to publicly state whether or not it will support Egypt’s proposal during the November meeting
According to Andy Bystrom, a consultant to the Programa, silky shark biology makes the species susceptible to overfishing. “It takes an individual 10 years to reach reproductive maturity, and females only give birth to an average of 6 pups after a year-long gestation period. This being the case, the species cannot support much more industrialized fishing pressures at their current levels,” said Bystrom.
“Despite the threats, silkies are commonly observed around Costa Rica’s Cocos Island where the emblematic hammerhead shark is also commonly seen,” said Randall Arauz of the organization. “Costa Rica and Ecuador have jointly submitted a proposal to include two species of hammerheads, Sphyrna lewini and Sphyrna mokarran, in the Convention on the Conservation, and we feel that it is time for the country to also show this same level of concern for silky sharks.