In response to the alarming decline of global shark populations, a group of countries from around the world have today announced a groundbreaking effort to control the unsustainable global trade in shark fins, which threatens to push these ecologically important predators to extinction, The Wildlife Conservation Society has said.

The Government of Panama is leading this initiative, in partnership with 40 countries around the world, with the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Colombia, El Salvador, The Seychelles, The Maldives, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Senegal, Gabon, Israel, the United Kingdom, Syria and the European Union and its Member States (27 countries) all joining them in this effort. Decisions will be taken at the 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Panama is host of the CITES meeting in November, where 184 member nations will come together to make decisions on the governance of international trade of the world’s most threatened species. Panama themselves are proposing that CITES regulates the trade in all requiem sharks – a family that includes the Endangered gray reef shark, beloved by scuba divers throughout the world, as well as species such as the Dusky and Ganges shark where overfishing and the trade of fins has driven them even closer to the edge of extinction. Additional proposals look to secure similar protections for coastal hammerhead sharks, and guitarfish – flattened relatives of true sharks.

“We’re encouraged to see CITES Governments match their level of ambition to the level of threat seen for sharks and rays globally. These three proposals will take us from around 25 percent of species found in the fin trade regulated under CITES, to a situation where the vast majority of sharks traded for their fins in a half a billion dollar per year trade are subject to CITES oversight and controls,” said Luke Warwick, the Director of Shark and Ray Conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

The news piece can be read here and the CITES proposals can be found here.

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