Only porbeagle sharks win trade protection at CITES.

9 April 2010

Sharks, like bluefin tuna and red and pink corals, failed to gain the necessary three-quarters majority required to restrict their trade on international markets. The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) meeting in Doha, Qatar, denied proposals to protect the oceanic whitetip, scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, dusky, sandbar and spiny dogfish sharks.

Sharks are targeted for their fins, which can sell for more than $1,000 each. Demand for the fins, for sharks’ fin soup, has surged with Asia’s economic rise.

Voting was by secret ballot but South American, North American and European nations have backed the proposals publicly. Asian nations, which represent by far the greatest market for sharks’ fins, are believed to have spearheaded the opposition. According to Oceana, a marine conservation group, up to 10 million kg of sharks’ fin is exported annually to Hong Kong by more than 87 countries.

Members of the Cousteau Society can read about the danger faced by sharks because of the market for their fins in the most recent issue of Calypso Log.