Wildlife & Biodiversity

CITES: Shark fin trade finally regulated as nearly 100 species provided protection   

Countries voted to include 54 species of requiem sharks, six species of hammerheads and 37 guitarfish in CITES Appendix II

By DTE Staff
Published: Saturday 19 November 2022
The tiger shark belongs to the requiem family. Photo: iStock__

The 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Panama City voted to limit or regulate trade in nearly 100 species of sharks and rays on November 17 and 18, 2022.

Countries voted to include 54 species of sharks from the requiem family, six species of hammerhead sharks and 37 guitarfish (shark-like species of rays) on CITES Appendix II.

This means that nearly all species of sharks hunted for their fins to be used for shark fin soup, a delicacy in Asian cuisine, are now CITES control. This figure was 25 per cent in 2019, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), a wildlife conservation charity.

Customs and enforcement officials can now ensure that only legal and sustainable trade takes place and meets the requirements as specified in Appendix II.

Under Appendix II, a permit or certificate authorising international trade in specimens of species listed in it can be granted by relevant authorities.

But this is done only if the authorities are satisfied that such trade will not affect the species’ survival and existence in the wild.

How it unfolded

Some 15 parties proposed to list 54 species of requiem sharks in Appendix II according to IFAW. These included:

  • Panama
  • Bangladesh
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • European Union and its Member States
  • Gabon
  • Israel
  • Maldives
  • Senegal
  • Seychelles
  • Sri Lanka
  • Syrian Arab Republic
  • United Kingdom

Five parties — European Union, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Panama — proposed to list the six species of hammerhead sharks in the Appendix.

Israel, Kenya, Panama and Senegal proposed the guitarfish listing.

The first proposal, on requiem sharks, was passed with 88 votes in support, 29 against and 17 abstentions. The second one on hammerhead species was passed unanimously. Both were passed November 17. The guitarfish proposal was passed November 18 with 101 votes in support, 14 against and 13 abstentions.

A third of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, according to IFAW. COP19 will end November 25, 2022.

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