Oceana Disgusted by CITES’ Failure to Protect Hammerhead Sharks
Press Release Date: March 23, 2010
Oceana, the world’s largest international ocean conservation organization, released the following statement from marine scientist and fisheries campaign manager Elizabeth Griffin today following the decision to not include scalloped hammerhead sharks in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This proposal also included great and smooth hammerheads as well as dusky and sandbar sharks because of the similarity of their fins.
“Today is a huge loss for the oceans and an iconic species. This is a case of politics prevailing over science. The world failed to stand up to protect one of the ocean’s smartest top predators, hammerhead sharks.
This would have been the first time international management measures were established for these shark species. Scalloped hammerhead shark populations have declined by up to 98 percent in some areas in recent decades. Today’s decision will allow the unregulated international trade of shark fins to continue to decimate shark populations worldwide.
The international shark fin trade is a multi-billion dollar business that is pushing many shark species to the brink of extinction. Hammerhead sharks are primarily caught for their fins. Hammerhead shark fins are among the most commonly traded into the Hong Kong market. These shark species are threatened by the international consumer demand for shark fin soup.
Protection in CITES would have allowed these shark populations to recover. These shark species are important to healthy oceans, livelihoods and local economies.”
About Sharks and CITES:
From March 13 to 25, representatives from 175 countries are meeting in Doha, Qatar, for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species’ (CITES) 15th Conference of the Parties. During these two weeks, countries will decide on the inclusion of eight shark species (oceanic whitetip, dusky, sandbar, spurdog, porbeagle and scalloped, smooth and great hammerheads) in CITES Appendix II. An Appendix II listing would require the use of export permits to ensure that the species were caught by a legal and sustainably managed fishery.
Earlier this week, Oceana released a new report The International Trade of Shark Fins: Endangering Shark Populations Worldwide that describes the impact of the global shark fin trade on the world’s oceans. According to the report, up to 10 million kg of shark fins (equivalent to the weight of more than 2,000 adult African Elephants) are exported annually to Hong Kong by nearly 87 countries.
Sharks can be found in almost every ocean and play a vital role in maintaining the health of the oceans. Many shark populations have declined to levels where they are unable to perform their roles as top predators in the ecosystem, causing drastic and possibly irreversible damage to the oceans. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, nearly half of the highly migratory shark species are now considered overexploited or depleted.
To learn more about Sharks and CITES, and for downloadable images, please visit www.oceana.org/CITES.
To read Oceana’s intervention on this proposal (as prepared), please click here.