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Nations vote to extend protection to over 50 shark species

Nearly 200 nations have voted to extend protections to over 50 species of sharks, including the requiem family that includes the tiger shark, shown here. File Photo by bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock
Nearly 200 nations have voted to extend protections to over 50 species of sharks, including the requiem family that includes the tiger shark, shown here. File Photo by bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Nearly 200 countries have voted to extend protection to more than 50 species of sharks at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES), the world's largest wildlife summit.

The measure, which was introduced by host nation Panama, offers protection to approximately two-thirds of the species that are targeted in the global shark fin trade. The protection applies to the requiem family of sharks, which includes tiger sharks, as well as to several species of hammerhead sharks.

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The decision, which brings the percentage of shark species regulated by CITIES from 25% to 70%, is binding for member states, who have a year to implement the changes. The measure would require shark fin exports to have correct paperwork proving they are in compliance with regulations.

A study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature found that approximately one-third of shark and ray species are in danger of extinction. Additionally, research indicates that ocean-going shark populations have decreased by 70% in the past 50 years.

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Overfishing and lack of regulation are believed to be the principal factors driving the depopulation of sharks.

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Japan pushed back against the measure, lobbying to remove 35 species that are not endangered from the list. Peru, a major exporter of shark fins, lobbied to have the blue shark removed from the list.

The trade in shark fins remains a multimillion-dollar industry, with shark fin exports from Peru increasing to twice their pre-pandemic levels in 2021. Of the 300 tons of shark fins exported Peru, 160 tons came from species that have now come under regulation.

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