Countries reach agreement to protect 18 shark species

Countries reach agreement to protect 18 shark species
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Three proposals to protect 18 types of sharks at risk of extinction passed a committee of the World Wildlife Conference, CITES, with a two-third majority Sunday, according to The Associated Press.

The proposals govern international trade of different species of mako shark, wedgefishes and guitarfishes, according to the AP. Makos, the world’s fastest sharks, are frequently caught in tuna nets.

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Dissenting members objected to the measure’s potential effect on their countries’ fishing industries. “Japan has been highly dependent on (live) marine resources from the ancient times,” Hideki Moronuki, director of fisheries negotiations at the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said, according to the AP. “It’s very, very important for us in Japan to sustainably use all those marine riches.”

Other dissenting nations included China, Iceland, Malaysia and New Zealand, while the United States voted against the mako shark measure but in favor of the other two.

Critics have also argued CITES’ mandate is to protect land plants and animals rather than marine animals and that data do not support the need for increased protections.

Supporters of the measure said immediate measures are necessary to preserve shark stocks, as tens of millions are killed each year due largely to the trade in shark parts. Scientists have cautioned that demand for shark fin soup is a particular threat, with some estimates saying the demand contributes to the killing of up to 273 million sharks per year, according to the AP.