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article imageA step forward in shark conservation

By Tim Sandle     Sep 14, 2014 in Environment
All trade in five named species of sharks is to be regulated. This means that fishing for the sharks is restricted and to do so without a permit will be illegal across most parts the world.
From September14, 2014 the oceanic whitetip, the porbeagle and three varieties of hammerhead sharks have a degree of protection. The sharks have been re-categorized under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species code. This means that traders must have permits and certificates. Manta rays have also been given the same protection status.
The regulation was agreed last year at a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Thailand. It has now come into force.
Hunting for sharks has risen considerably in recent years, with some estimates putting the number slaughtered at around 100 million per annum. One reason for this rise is a growing demand for shark fins, particularly from wealthy people residing in Hong Kong and mainland China.
Commenting on the new legislation, CITES Secretary General John Scanlon told i24 News: "Regulating international trade in these shark and manta ray species is critical to their survival and is a very tangible way of helping to protect the biodiversity of our oceans. The practical implementation of these listings will involve issues such as determining sustainable export levels, verifying legality, and identifying the fins, gills and meat that are in trade. This may seem challenging, but by working together we can do it and we will do it."
The oceanic whitetip was once a widespread large shark species, but its numbers show a drastic decline.
Hammerhead sharks are known for their distinctive head shape which may have evolved in part to enhance vision.
Porbeagles are found in cold and temperate waters of the North Atlantic and Southern Hemisphere.
The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices. With Appendix I, the category with most stringent protection, includes species threatened with extinction. Appendix II, which covers the five newly protected species of shark, is for species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but where trade needs to be controlled in order to avoid potential extinction Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country.
One obstacle will affect the new conservation status. A small number of countries have not signed up to the code. Denmark, Canada, Guyana, Japan, Iceland and Yemen have refused to sign and have indicated that they will continue to fish for the sharks.
More about Sharks, Conservation, Trade, Endangered species
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