News / Asia

Protection of Sharks and Rays Threatens to Divide CITES

A woman takes a photograph of a dried shark fin on display at a restaurant in Bangkok, host city of the CITES meeting, March 5, 2013.A woman takes a photograph of a dried shark fin on display at a restaurant in Bangkok, host city of the CITES meeting, March 5, 2013.
x
A woman takes a photograph of a dried shark fin on display at a restaurant in Bangkok, host city of the CITES meeting, March 5, 2013.
A woman takes a photograph of a dried shark fin on display at a restaurant in Bangkok, host city of the CITES meeting, March 5, 2013.
Ron Corben
— Debate about greater protection for several species of sharks and rays endangered by overfishing threatens to divide the 170-member states of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Generally, proposals to protect the marine animals have strong backing, but are opposed by several Asian nations, especially Japan and China.

A new push to protect sharks and rays is expected to dominate debate Monday at the CITES meeting in Bangkok.

Conservationists say the issue is dividing the 178 CITES member nations. Several species are facing drastic declines due to overfishing and harvesting for traditional medicines in a largely unregulated market.

The president of U.S.-based conservation group Shark Advocates International, Sonja Fordham, says proposals to limit trade have the support of several key agencies, including the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

“The shark proposals are on the table. Those species are quite highly threatened and highly traded so they do make good candidates for CITES listing. All the relevant experts from IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), TRAFFIC, CITES Secretariat and the FAO group of experts have determined that the species meets the criteria for listing.”

Species proposed for protection include the oceanic white tip shark, the porbeagle shark and three species of Hammerhead sharks, as well as a freshwater sawfish, and the giant manta ray.

The United Nations says up to 2.7 million hammerhead sharks are harvested each year, while as many as 1.2 million oceanic white tip sharks are killed for their fins.
 
Running into opposition

A member of the conservationist group Humane Society International, Rebecca Regenry, says proposals to limit trade face resistance from major Asian countries.

“The threats to these species include trade in meat and gills and live animals for the aquarium trade. But these proposals are facing strong opponents especially from the governments of China and Japan.”

Other Asian nations, including meeting host Thailand, indicate they will back China’s opposition to CITES trade regulations.

Shark fins are worth as much as $120 a kilogram, but the rest of the shark is low-value meat and after their fins are removed the animal is discarded at sea, often still alive.

According to the U.S.-based PEW Charitable Trust, Hong Kong is the world’s largest shark-fin market, importing about 10-million kilograms in 2011 - about half the global trade.

Humane Society International’s Australia director, Alexia Wellbelove, says with sharks being taken at an unsustainable rate, it is important to act.

“Basically it does mean that we are in a position where we can get some regulation on that now. We can stop those populations from dropping too much further, controlling it before it is too late.”

A committee decision Monday to adopt shark-product regulations would still need to be endorsed later in the week by a meeting of all CITES members before going into effect.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid