As stronger science becomes available, more countries worldwide are recognizing the value sharks play in maintaining healthy ecosystems. However, despite the recent gains made internationally to protect shark species, there are still countries that have no finning regulations of any kind and illegal trade and catch are notoriously hard to track and stop.
Lack of regulation for shark finning and poor fishing practices result in millions of sharks being killed every year in legal and illegal fisheries, decimating shark populations around the world. As migratory species, sharks cannot be protected from overexploitation by individual countries; they must be protected by regional and international treaties that regulate fisheries and international commerce.
Where We Are Today
Many countries are increasingly recognizing the need to regulate and control international trade in shark products, including fins, to decrease the volume of sharks caught each year as well as put a stop to illegal take of sharks. Three shark species have already gained international protections through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Throughout 2012, Defenders of Wildlife will be working with Latin American countries and federal agencies in the United States to gain support for requesting international protections for five more critically endangered shark species—hammerhead, oceanic white-tip, porbeagle, dusky and sandbar sharks. These species will then have their fates decided at the next CITES meeting in Thailand in 2013.
Defenders is also working with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna and the InterAmerican Tropical Tuna Commission to ensure stricter conservation measures to prevent shark deaths as bycatch and additional conservation measures.