Fish, Fisheries and Queryomics
Delegates at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) voted today (Monday 11 March 2013) to add five species of shark to the list of plants and animals whose international trade is regulated. The vote, although welcome, is subject to final approval later this week.
Proposals to protect the oceanic whitetip shark Carcharhinus longimanus, porbeagle Lamna nasus, scalloped hammerhead Sphyrna lewini, great hammerhead S. mokarran, and smooth hammerhead S. zygaena were adopted by convention delegates. The oceanic whitetip shark and hammerhead sharks are threatened with overfishing due to the shark fin trade, whereas porbeagle are targeted primarily for their meat in Europe.
Votes were: oceanic whitetip proposal (passed 92 to 42, with 8 abstentions); hammerhead proposal (passed 91 to 39); and porbeagle proposal (passed 93 to 39, with 8 abstentions).
Convention delegates also voted to increase protection two species of manta rays (passed 96 to 23 to restrict international trade in manta rays).
All of these species will be added to Appendix II of CITES, which allows legal and sustainable trade. For the sharks, strictly controlled permits will now be required for the export of fins.
Japan and China, major consumers of shark products, opposed the listing, citing difficulties in identifying the specific species’ fins, even though a guide to fin identification (available here) was distributed to delegates. But Beel, can they read English, you ask? No problem. Tthe guide is available in English, Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese.
Of course, says Beel, they would have to be able to read!
But friends, please allow Beel to present a portion of that guide, which includes a flow chart for identifying the species of interest and photographs of fins. It’s quite nice, actually.
Delegates also voted to ban all trade of the freshwater sawfish Pristis pristis, a type of ray with a long, toothy snout that is targeted for its fins. When CITES prohibited the trade of other sawfish in 2007, it made an exemption for freshwater sawfish so that Australia could continue to sell sawfish to American aquarists. Today’s vote results in a complete global ban on international commercial trade in sawfish.