An effort to bolster conservation measures for plummeting shark populations was defeated yesterday at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), according to the AP.
The nonbinding measure would have increased transparency in the shark trade and produced research on illegal fishing for sharks.
The measure was taken down largely by China, Japan and Russia who argued that shark populations weren’t in trouble, despite a decline in some shark populations of 90 percent. Currently the IUCN Red List estimates that 32 percent of open ocean sharks are threatened with extinction. As the ocean’s top predators, research has shown that a decline in sharks sparks a trophic cascade whereby many other species all down the food chain are impacted.
Shark populations have suffered in part due to the shark fin trade for the growing consumption of shark fin soup, a delicacy in parts of Asia, especially China. Sharks are caught, de-finned (their fins cut off), and then thrown back into the ocean to die. It has been estimated that 26 to 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins. Sharks are also often caught as bycatch.
China, Japan, and Russia further argued that the measure would hurt poor countries. Libya and Morocco concurred arguing that the measure would hurt poor fishermen.
The AP says that the decline of this measure—which was expected to pass easily—may be a bad sign for the meeting’s other proposals to aid endangered species such as elephants and bluefin tuna.
(03/11/2010) Sharks that dwell in the Maldives can breathe a sigh of relief: the island nation has declared 90,000 square kilometers of the Indian Ocean a safe-haven for sharks, banning shark fishing as well as any trade in shark fins.
(02/17/2010) One hundred and thirteen countries have signed on to an agreement to protect seven migratory sharks currently threatened with extinction byway of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), according to the UN Environment Program (UNEP). The agreement prohibits hunting, fishing, or deliberate killing of the great white shark, basking shark, whale shark, porbeagle shark, spiny dogfish, as well as the shortfin and longfin mako sharks. However, Australia has declared it will ignore certain protections.
(11/15/2009) Environmentalists say that the International Commissions for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) did not do enough in their yearly meeting to protect the ocean’s sharks.