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Shark Info   (07-20-2002)



Modern technology aids shark protection

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  Main article:

Modern technology aids white shark protection

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  Article 1:

The role of CITES in protecting and managing sharks

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  Article 2:

Shark Exhibit in Zurich

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  Article 3:

Sharks in Research and Industry

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  Article 4:

Dr. Erich Ritter's accident with a bull shark

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  Fact Sheet:

Salmon Shark

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The role of CITES in protecting and managing sharks

Report by Shark Info

IUCN Shark Specialist Group (June 2002):

In 1994 at the ninth member conference of CITES (U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) concern was expressed for the first time about the increasing trade with shark products and the uncontrolled exploitation of shark populations. As a result, a resolution (Conf. 9.17, "The status of international trade with sharks") was passed which, among other things, draws attention to what members consider intolerable excessive trade with several shark species which seriously endangers their survival. The CITES Animal Committee was asked to prepare a discussion paper prior to the 1997 conference summarizing the biological and trade technical status of internationally traded shark species. In addition, CITES members, the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) and international organizations responsible for fishery management were requested to initiate programs which could provide data on the biology and trade of sharks in time for the 11th conference in 2000. By 2000 a greater part of the demands of the 9th conference had actually been implemented, especially thanks to the "International Action Plan for the Protection and Management of Sharks (IPOA Sharks) developed by the FAO and in part initiated voluntarily by several of the parties.


The actualization of most measures proposed by IPOA Sharks is progressing well in some countries, although at the 18th Conference of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group and TRAFFIC it was announced that only negligible progress had been made in those nations and organizations actually involved in shark trade (see table below). Between 86 and 125 nations export shark fins to Hong Kong and 113 are involved in trading shark products. The 18 largest trading nations each record more than 10,000 tons of shark exports annually. Of these only 29 have reported any progress in implementing IPOA Sharks measures and only 5 have compiled any statistics on shark populations or initiated action plans for sharks which are made available for public scrutiny. Out of the 18 most significant shark-catching nations, only one has even made any "provisional" survey of their shark populations. The remaining four have national action plans, one of which is only a draft, and all four only partially fulfill FAO guidelines.

Top 15 Countries of Shark Fishery Statistics (1999)
CountryCatches in Tons Catches of
Catches in
Exports to
Hong Kong
(kg dry weight)
Indonesia 116,190 yes   597,012
India 72,966 yes  315,591
Spain 65,786 yes yes 970,412
Pakistan 54,958 yes  55,298
Taiwan 42,933 yesyes 639,869
USA 37,559 yes   298,821
Japan 35,948 yes yes 254,207
Mexico 35,239 yes   269,765
Sri Lanka 29,360 yes   54,536
Argentina 27,517 yes   41,118
Malaysia 25,125 yes   11,895
France 23,323 yes yes 3,467
New Zealand 19,810 yes no 13,387
Thailand 19,000 yes   34,235
Brazil 17,820 yes yes 185,654
Total 623,534 3,745,267

According to these fishing statistics (see table) compiled by the 15 main fin exporters, officially 3,745 tons of dried fins find their way to Hong Kong. In a store one dried fin costs between 50 and 150 US dollars per 200 grams, depending on its quality and processing. Under the very conservative assumption that an average store price runs about Fr. 400.- (272 Euros) per kilogram of fins, Hong Kong is the nerve center of the shark fin market valued at 1.4 billion Swiss francs (953 million Euros).

Thus it does not surpise that those countries which export fins are very reluctant, if at all willing, to implement shark protection measures. Furthermore, it is not astonishing that the realization of any concrete decisions made by CITES to regulate international trade with endangered shark species was continually postponed or even prevented completely by the fishery industry lobby.

The only chance for many shark populations thus remains the national and international organizations dedicated to protecting sharks. Through them pressure can be exercised on CITES partner states against the fishery lobby. Some initial success has been registered by WildAid and the English Shark Trust (see Brief International News). The world's largest fin exporter, Spain, just passed a law which strictly regulates shark catches and which should make infamous finning unattractive for fishers.

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last change: 06-04-2016 11:48