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

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora