An international law passed last year to include five shark species and manta rays to CITES Appendix II (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) has come into effect.

“An Appendix-II listing under CITES is designed to ensure that commercial international trade is strictly regulated to ensure its sustainability, legality and traceability for the long-term survival of the species in the wild,” CITES explains.

From now on, the international trade in specimens of oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, smooth hammerhead and all manta ray species, including their meat, gills and fins, will need to be accompanied by permits and certificates confirming that they have been harvested sustainably and legally.

Exports and re-exports of the new listed species will not be allowed from any of the 180 States Parties unless previously authorized.

“Regulating international trade in these shark and manta ray species is critical to their survival and is a very tangible way of helping to protect the biodiversity of our oceans,” said CITES Secretary General John Scanlon.

“The practical implementation of these listings will involve issues such as determining sustainable export levels, verifying legality, and identifying the fins, gills and meat that are in trade. This may seem challenging, but by working together we can do it and we will do it.”

Even though these threatened species are now protected, Canada, Japan, Iceland, Greenland, Guyana and Yemen have all stated that they will not abide by the new ruling and will continue to fish as they like. However, if wanting to trade with those countries following the regulation, permits will be required.

According to official figures, some 100 million sharks are killed every year with up to 73 million brutally killed only for their fins.

Of the fourteen shark species most prevalent in the shark fin trade, all have experienced regional population declines ranging from 40-99% in the last 15 years.

However, according to a new report by WildAid, prices and shark fin sales are falling up to 70 per cent in China, the largest shark fin market, thanks to awareness campaigns by animal rights and environmental organizations.

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