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The international summit approved the protection of sharks, which has the potential to drastically reduce the shark fin trade

Profile photo: A lemon shark belonging to the family True shark swims towards a group of divers and bait boxes off Florida, followed by a group of fish waiting to pick up a snack. (11 February 2022)
Profile photo: A lemon shark belonging to the family True shark swims towards a group of divers and bait boxes off Florida, followed by a group of fish waiting to pick up a snack. (11 February 2022)

Delegates to the Global Summit on Endangered Species on Friday (15 November) approved plans to protect 54 new shark species, a move that threatens to drastically reduce the lucrative but cruel shark fin trade.

Members of the family True and hammerhead sharks are now subject to strict trade controls under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The binding proposals were adopted by consensus on the last day of the two-week meeting. The Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora meets every two or three years. The session in Panama City was attended by representatives from 183 countries and the European Union.

The Plenary Chair, representative of Panama, Shirley Binder, said: “Proposition 37 was approved. “This proposal is to protect the family of True sharks. Prior to the adoption of the proposal, Japan had tried unsuccessfully to remove the Great Shark from the plan.

The proposal on hammerhead sharks was adopted without debate.

Binder previously told AFP that the “historic decision” means that up to 90 percent of sharks on the market will now be protected.

Asia’s penchant for shark fins, or shark fins, stimulated the shark fin trade. Shark fin appears on tables in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan.

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Although shark fin is described as almost tasteless and gelatinous, shark fin soup is seen as a cherished delicacy, salivating for the very wealthy, and often a signature dish at weddings and lavish banquets.

Shark fin represents a market of about $500 million a year and can sell for about $1,000 per kilogram.

Luke Warwick, director of the shark conservation program at the NGO Wildlife Conservation Society International (WCS), said: “People will remember that we turned the tide on this day to prevent the extinction of sharks and rays in the world. These

shark species will now be listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Species listed in Appendix II may not be at risk of extinction, but unless their trade is tightly controlled, they are likely to go extinct.

“The critical next step will be to put these lists in place and ensure that they will lead to stronger fisheries management and trade measures as soon as possible,” Warwick said. ”

From bullies to new favorites

, sharks have been present in the ocean for more than 400 million years. Sharks have long been seen as bullies in the sea, appearing as horrors in movies such as Jaws. Shark attacks on humans also occur occasionally.

However, the image of these ancient predators has undergone a fundamental shift in recent years. Conservationists highlighted the critical role sharks play in regulating marine ecosystems.

Joaquin de la Torre of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) told AFP that more than 100 million sharks are killed each year.

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“Sharks and rays are the most threatened species, even surpassing elephants and big cats. “

Many shark species take more than 10 years to reach sexual maturity and have low fertility rates, so the constant hunting of these species has severely reduced their numbers.

In many parts of the world, fishermen cut off shark fins at sea and throw sharks back into the sea, leaving them to die of suffocation or blood loss.

The efforts of conservationists reached a turning point in 2013. At that time, for the first time, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora imposed trade restrictions on some shark species.

Delegates on persistent overfishing

have been considering 52 proposals to change the level of protection for more than 600 species.

They also approved new protections for ploughshare rays, crocodiles, frogs, and certain turtle species.

Susan Liberman, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said: “Many of the proposals adopted here reflect the persistence of overfishing and unsustainable trade, as well as the escalation of illegal trade, some of which is due to the complex interplay of other threats to reducing wild species, including climate change, disease, infrastructure development, and habitat loss. “

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which entered into force in 1975, has established international trade rules for more than 36,000 wild species.

The Convention is signed by 183 States and the European Union.

(This article is based on an AFP report from Panama City.)

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