By John Hofilena
Government sources have revealed that Japan plans to reject the recent decision by signatory countries of the 1973 pact that is officially called the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that seeks to regulate international trading in sharks, whose populations have sharply declined due to over-hunting for the aquatic predators’ fins. These same sources say that Tokyo will file a reservation, similar to the nation’s rejection of the CITES agreement on whale hunting. The move will once again put Japan in the spotlight, as this is another evidence of the country’s negative attitude toward global efforts to preserve endangered marine resources.
Signatories to the 1973 CITES pact decided in March this year, at a conference in Bangkok, to heavily regulate exporting of sharks, and for countries to issue certificates of permission for international trade in sharks. This decision was supported by more than two-thirds of the voters. Japan’s impending reservation will be filed with the CITES secretariat, and argue that sharks and their trade should be managed under existing fishery management organs. This rejection of the regulation will cover three species of hammerhead shark, plus oceanic whitetip sharks and porbeagle sharks. Sources say that Japan will most likely accept the other decision to regulate trade of manta rays.
Data from Japan’s Fisheries Agency show that annual “harvests” of oceanic whitetip sharks in the country stand at about 40 tons in 2011, some of which have apparently been exported as shark fin products. Aside from Japan, China and India are affected by these new regulations, as their cultures are big patrons of delicacies which make use of the shark’s fins. Japan has already infamously rejected CITES decisions to ban trade in seven species of whales – including sperm and minke whales – and further rejecting the regulations to trade in basking sharks, whale sharks, great white sharks and seahorses.