Call on CITES to recognise endangered sharks and other marine species within its convention
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List, first developed in 1963, is an inventory of world species of animals and plants that are at risk of extinction. IUCN have evaluated over 44,000 species (of the 1.8 million species we currently know about), and have categorized nearly 17,000 of those of being at some risk of extinction.
The Red List is the accepted standard and source for data on threatened species, the information held within is used by many other organisations to back up conservation awareness, action and protection.
You can read more about the red list here:
CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between countries, founded in the 1960s as a direct result of the work being done by the IUCN. Its aim is "to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival."
Species that are protected by the agreement are arranged into three different categories
Appendix I : international trade in species is prohibited, unless the trade is non commercial. In these instances both import and export certificates are required
Appendix II : international trade may be gained by granting of an export certificate, no import certificate is required
Appendix III : species that are included at the request of a member country that has local restrictions in force and needs cooperation from other countries to prevent unsustainable or illegal exploitation
There are currently 175 member countries signed up to the agreement, these countries are legally bound to implement the convention within their own domestic legislation to ensure that the terms are adhered to at a national level.
You can read more about CITES here:
Looking purely at animals, the IUCN red list contains 7,500 individual species that are categorized as threatened in some way. Almost 1300 of these are from the fish family, 126 of those are species of shark (i.e. almost 10% of threatened fish, 1.5% of threatened animals) .
In contrast, there are approximately 5000 species of animal protected by the CITES agreement. Just 96 of these species are fish, and only three of those are species of shark that are listed as threatened within
IUCN , namely the Great White, Basking and Whale Shark. All are listed under Appendix II, i.e. international trade is allowed provided that import and export certificates are granted.
So, just 0.06% of the species that are protected by the CITES convention are made up of threatened shark species.
Shark populations are depleting rapidly world wide. One of the main contributory factors is the current demand for shark fin soup in the Asian markets. 1000's of tonnes of shark fin are exported from countries all around the world each year to help meet this demand.
Recognising and protecting the endangered species of shark within the CITES convention, limiting the ability to import or export shark or shark parts, may help to reduce the impact this trade is having on shark populations world wide.