The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that more than 100 million sharks are killed each year, largely to fuel the shark fin trade. Over the past century, 90 per cent of the world’s sharks have disappeared.
This month, Japan announced it would reject a March 11 decision by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to restrict cross-border trade of five species of sharks: oceanic whitetip, porbeagle and three species of hammerhead shark. Two-thirds of the 178 member nations supported a vital agreement that exports of these shark species could only proceed if they did not threaten wild populations. Japan has now refused to comply with this agreement and is the only country to opt out of all 8 CITES listings for sharks.
Prof. Amanda Vincent, Canada Research Chair in Marine Conservation and director of University of British Columbia’s Project Seahorse, was instrumental in getting all 48 species of seahorses added to the CITES protection list in 2002. Her latest study, published this month in Fish and Fisheries, shows CITES could play a critical role in helping secure survival of key sharks species in the face of overfishing.
Q: Japan has filed a “reservation” against the CITES listing of the five species of shark, what does this mean?
Essentially it means that Japan is not going to comply with CITES regulations, and will not guarantee that its shark exports are sustainable. CITES member nations have 90 days to file a reservation on any new listings. Japan had done so previously for seahorses, basking sharks, whale sharks, white sharks and seven species of whales. More....