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Pilot Project to Enhance the Capacity of Ecuador to Use Genetic Identification Techniques to Assist in Implementation of the CITES Shark Listings

View slideshow The first WWF-NOAA CITES Shark DNA workshop was held on April 28-29, 2015, at the Office of the Vice-minister of Aquaculture and Fisheries (VMAP) in Manta, Ecuador, where a total of 15 Fishery Technicians from the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Fisheries (MAGAP) learned species-specific DNA extraction, amplification, and identification techniques. second workshop participants.jpg Genetic Students slider.jpg Ecuador Lab Setup.JPG Genetic Students slider b.jpg Manta Port slider.JPG artisanal fleet.jpg Shark landing.jpg Landing site sunrise.jpg landed sharks slider.JPG Shark Finning.JPG Data Collection.JPG DNA extraction.jpg Student work.jpg Students at Work.jpg Student ceremony.JPG

A collaborative pilot project is underway between NOAA Fisheries Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection, the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the Government of Ecuador to train Ecuadorian officials in standard genetic techniques used to process and identify shark products in trade. This hands-on training has been provided to the Government of Ecuador through a series of workshops, which were organized by World Wildlife Fund-Ecuador, with grant funds from NMFS Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection to help increase the country's capacity to monitor shark products in trade and to ensure compliance with requirements under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Collectively, 30 government officials have received training on species-specific genetic identification techniques over the course of the two workshops. These trainings have laid the groundwork for the development of outreach materials, including scientific reports, to help explain the use and effectiveness of these techniques under this pilot project.

Interested in viewing photos from the project? Click on the image (upper-right) to view a slideshow. 

For questions about this project, please contact Laura Cimo (


For an entertaining and informative review of this pilot project underway in Manta, Ecuador, watch the film below.



Improving Monitoring Protocols for Trade of Shark Products

CITES Shark Listings
CITES Exit As background, CITES Parties, agreed to list five commercially exploited shark species in Appendix II at the last meeting of the Conference of the Parties.  Species listed under Appendix I are threatened with extinction and therefore the commercial trade of this species is prohibited; a species listed under Appendix II are not necessarily threatened with extinction but could become so unless trade is closely controlled and monitored. Therefore, shark and ray species listed under Appendix II require specific export documentation before trade of these animals can be initiated. However, among the challenges with implementation of the CITES shark listings is the difficulty with accurate identification of sharks (to species level) and specimens of shark species, including detached, dried fins in the global fin market. To help address this problem, NOAA Fisheries Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection supported a pilot project by World Wildlife Fund to provide materials for the genetic identification of shark products to the Government of Ecuador and training on its use. This pilot project will enhance Ecuador’s capacity to monitor shark products in trade, and support regional efforts to ensure that shark products in trade are legal and sustainable.

Read more about CITES shark and ray listings.


DNA Extraction and Amplification Methods

Gel Electrophoresis and Species Identification Protocols
Note:  The posters above reflect certain genetic techniques used to conduct this type of work and do not reflect the preferred or most up-to-date methods in the field.