New Shark Fin Protection For Five Species
March 11, 2013

Sharks Get Big Win With New Regulations

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Five shark species have received protection against finning trade, which causes millions of sharks to be killed every year.

Over 170 nations gathered together at the world's biggest wildlife summit and voted to crack down on the finning trade, which supplies a key ingredient to the very popular shark-fin soup in Asia. The sharks, including three hammerhead species, the oceanic white tip and porbeagle, will require strictly controlled permits to export the fins.

“This is a landmark moment showing that the world´s governments support sustainable fisheries and are concerned about the reckless over-exploitation of sharks for commercial use," Carlos Drews, head of the World Wildlife Fund´s delegation at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), said in a statement. "Today´s decision will go a long way in slowing down the frenzied overfishing of sharks that is pushing them to the brink of collapse to feed the luxury goods market.”

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, finning has led to declines in 70 to 93 percent of various territories for the sharks.

“Regulating the trade of marine species like sharks, which are facing unprecedented commercial pressures, is key to saving them and ensuring our oceans contribute to food security by staying healthy and productive”.

Under the regulation, both exporting and importing countries must issue licenses for the sharks. If a nation is caught taking in too many of these species, they can be hit with sanctions.

Asian nations have been strongly against these proposals, due to the popularity of the shark trade. According to the WWF, the market for shark products in Asia is a luxury one with shark fins selling for up to $135/kg in Hong Kong. However, many West African countries voted in favor of the restrictions after seeing many native shark fisheries destroyed by large offshore operations.

“It has been shown today that governments followed the best available science to make decisions on commercially exploited marine life," said Drews. "We encourage governments to stick by these decisions and not reopen the debate before the end of the week — or put this victory for sharks at risk.”

Another shark finning ban was strongly endorsed by a European Parliament vote back in November, ending some loopholes that allowed for the practice. The European Parliament voted strongly in favor of the European Commission's proposal to ban shark finning.

“Parliament´s overwhelming support for strengthening the EU finning ban represents a significant victory for shark conservation in the EU and beyond,” said Ali Hood, Shark Trust Director of Conservation. “Because of the EU´s influence at international fisheries bodies, this action holds great promise for combating this wasteful practice on a global scale.”