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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid