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10 million kilos of shark fin imported into Hong Kong in 1 year – Where from?

12/07/2012 08:11:02

Sharks killed by shark nets 

The numbers are not so high, but shark nets, which are designed to kill sharks, not exclude them, kill makny thousands of sharks every year. 

A new analysis by the Pew Environment Group, Navigating Global Shark Conservation Measures: Current Measures and Gaps, compiles existing management measures for sharks, highlights their inadequacies, and makes recommendations for improvements. The following is a summary of that analysis.

July 2012. Sharks have been swimming the world's oceans for more than 400 million years. But today, shark populations are in trouble globally. Life history characteristics, such as slow growth, late maturation, and slow production of few offspring, make sharks vulnerable to overfishing and slow to recover from decline.

More than 50% of sharks studied are threatened or worse
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has assessed the extinction risk of 480 species of sharks from around the world. Forty-three percent (209 species) are data deficient. More than half of those with enough information to determine their conservation status (150 species) are threatened or near threatened with extinction. The loss of sharks could cause irreversible damage to the ocean, as sharks play an important role in maintaining balance in the marine environment.

Shark species not only span national jurisdictions, but also roam the high seas, thus complicating conservation and management efforts. Globally, the existing state of management for sharks is inadequate to protect these animals. Shark conservation and management is a piecemeal approach of varying measures at the domestic, regional, and international levels.

The analysis, Navigating Global Shark Conservation: Current Measures and Gaps the first complete summary of global shark conservation and management, was released as more than 100 governments meet in Rome for the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Other interesting findings include:

  • 83 countries or territories supplied more than 10.3 million kilograms of shark fin products to Hong Kong in 2011. Spain is revealed as a major exporter of shrk fins.
  • Of the 211 countries, territories, and other political entities reviewed in the analysis, only approximately one-third ban the wasteful practice of finning and very few countries have catch limits in place for individual shark species (even for threatened or endangered species). 
  • Despite a growing list of threatened species, just three sharks have global protections to date - the great white shark, basking shark, and whale shark. 

This in-depth look at global shark protections by the Pew Environment Group points out the serious lack of adequate shark management and conservation measures worldwide. Read the full report.


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