Shark fin hunters in soup as wildlife summit springs into action

The hammerhead shark is among the creatures expected to receive higher protected status at a CITES conference in Panama.

A global wildlife summit in Panama on Thursday took an important step towards improving protection for sharks, the ancient oceanic vertebrates targeted for their fins used in a social status soup.

A committee has voted to approve a proposal to include requiem and hammerhead sharks on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The appendix lists species which may not yet be threatened with extinction but which could become so unless their trade is tightly controlled.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which advocates for the inclusion of sharks in the appendix, says the Requiem shark family accounts for at least 70% of the fin trade.

According to Luke Warwick of the Wildlife Conservation Society, “we are in the midst of a very big shark extinction crisis”.

He said sharks, which are vital to the ocean’s ecosystem, are “the second most threatened group of vertebrates on the planet”.

Shark fins, which represent a market of around $500 million a year, can sell for around $1,000 a kilogram in East Asia for use in shark fin soup, a delicacy.

Sharp decline in shark numbers

Chart of the 71% decline in global oceanic shark abundance since 1970, according to a study published in 2021.

The Requiem shark family includes species such as the tiger shark, silky shark, and gray reef shark.

Also ahead of the ongoing CITES gathering in Panama City is the Appendix II listing of freshwater stingrays and guitarfish, among other species.

The conference is considering 52 proposals to change levels of protection for species which also include crocodiles, lizards, snakes, freshwater turtles and several species of plants and trees.

Shark fin soup is a delicacy in East Asia

Shark fin soup is a delicacy in East Asia.

A final decision will be taken at the closing meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties (COP-19) on 25 November.

CITES, in force since 1975, regulates trade in some 36,000 species of plants and animals and provides mechanisms to help crack down on illegal trade.

It sanctions countries that break the rules. Its members are 183 countries and the European Union.

© 2022 AFP

Quote: Shark fin hunters in soup as wildlife summit springs into action (November 18, 2022) Retrieved November 18, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-shark- end-hunters-soup-wildlife.html

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