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International trade regulation of several shark species will be considered at CITES Meeting

March 1, 2013

Representatives of 177 governments from around the world are expected to attend the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) March 3-14 in Bangkok, Thailand.

CITESCITES, which was agreed to in Washington, DC, in 1973, offers protection to more than 30,000 animal and plant species around the globe. It has been instrumental in preventing their extinction and is generally recognized as one of the most effective and best-enforced international conservation agreements.

Proposals to regulate the international trade of five species of sharks and two related manta rays have been submitted and co-sponsored by 37 countries for consideration at the meeting. The proposed shark species — the oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, and three types of hammerhead (scalloped, smooth and great) — are among the most valuable and vulnerable sharks in international trade. A positive result will limit international trade of shark fin and meat and manta gill rakers and help reduce the threat of over fishing facing these species.

Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director for science and head of the Institute’s Shark Research Program, will attend the CITES meeting to give presentations about a shark fin identification guide he co-developed. Also, as a shark expert and co-author of two recently published scientific papers about sharks, Dr. Chapman will be available to speak with the news media and others as these shark species are being considered for international trade regulation.

Identifying Shark FinsThe shark fin identification guide, developed by Dr. Chapman and marine biologist Debra Abercrombie, is intended to help enforcement and customs personnel in the provisional identification of the first dorsal fins of the five shark species of concern that are also being considered at the meeting for international trade regulation. These are globally distributed and large-bodied, and their fins are traded internationally in large numbers. In law enforcement situations, this guide could provide probable cause to hold questionable fins, so that expert opinion could be sought or genetic testing could be conducted to confirm the field identification.

For more information about the recent papers about oceanic whitetip sharks and the number of sharks killed each year, please visit this page.

For more information about the shark identification guide, please visit: http://www.sharkfinid.com/.

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