News / Africa

Final Vote Nears on Conserving Sharks

Workers cut off fins from frozen carcasses of a sharks at a fish processing plant in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, November 15, 2011.
Workers cut off fins from frozen carcasses of a sharks at a fish processing plant in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, November 15, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Shark fin soup is a delicacy in Asia. But its popularity is helping to decimate shark populations. However, governments voted Monday (today) to protect five species of the predators. Preliminary approval came at a U.N. meeting on wildlife trade in Bangkok, Thailand.


Conservationists having been trying for years to protect sharks. Success finally came at this year’s meeting of CITES -- the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Governments also voted to protect two species of manta rays, as well. Final approval is expected Thursday, the last day of the meeting.

“We are quietly confident that that vote will now be the end of it. It was a very successful day as far as these shark species go and the manta rays with quite overwhelming votes on all of them, said,” said Glenn Sant, global marine program leader for TRAFFIC, an NGO concerned with biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

Any opponents of protecting the sharks have one last chance to change minds at the meeting’s final plenary session.
Five species of sharks traded for their meat and fins have been listed in CITES. Credit: M Burgener / TRAFFICFive species of sharks traded for their meat and fins have been listed in CITES. Credit: M Burgener / TRAFFIC
x
Five species of sharks traded for their meat and fins have been listed in CITES. Credit: M Burgener / TRAFFIC
Five species of sharks traded for their meat and fins have been listed in CITES. Credit: M Burgener / TRAFFIC

The five species that received at least two-thirds approval are the Oceanic Whitetip, Scalloped Hammerhead, Great Hammerhead, Smooth Hammerhead and Porbeagle. The manta rays include one species that lives near reefs and another that’s migratory.

Sant said that sharks are “particularly vulnerable to over exploitation.”

“They live many years. They have few young. They’re an important part of the ecosystem because they sit at the top of major predators in the ecosystem. So when you start removing too many of these top order predators you get an imbalance in the ecosystem. When we start removing too many of these individual sharks we’ve seen huge crashes in their populations. In Thailand there were discussions about some of these populations being reduced by over 90 percent.”

Conservationists say many times when sharks are caught, they have their fins cut off and are then thrown back into the sea to die. The manta rays are prized for their gills, which are also used as a food delicacy. Proposals to protect sharks were first introduced at a 1994 CITES meeting in the U.S.

Sant said, “I must say though it is a bit of a bittersweet win today. You know, it’s sad that we’ve had to get to the point where some of these shark populations have been reduced to such levels that we then only give attention to them.”

If final approval is given, the sharks and rays would be included under Appendix II of CITES. It is not a total ban. Appendix II does allow commercial trade. But countries involved in such trade must do two things. They have to prove that the sharks and rays were, one, legally caught and, two, sustainably caught.

“It means now that these shark populations will undergo much great scrutiny before they’re allowed to be traded internationally,” said Sant.

The CITES meeting also gave preliminary approval to giving greater protection to the Freshwater Sawfish.

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More