Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Say no to shark finning

Posted: 11 February 2013. Updated: 26 July 2018


Urge CITES to protect hammerheads and other sharks

Shark finning is responsible for the deaths of nearly 100 million sharks each year, pushing species to the brink. The shark’s fin is used in shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy which demands high prices and is usually reserved for special occasions such as weddings and New Year.

Finning is a particularly brutal practice. Fishing vessels pull their catch on board, and slice off the shark’s fins whilst the animal is still alive. Many are then thrown back into the sea to die.

Shark species have existed for more than 400 million years and are one of the top predators of the ocean. The demand for shark fin however is threatening to destroy the delicate balance that exists in the food chain. Internationally, many species of sharks are now listed as critically endangered or endangered, and an article in the UK newspaper ‘The Guardian‘ reported “Tens of millions of sharks are killed every year…despite the fact that one-third of European shark and ray species and one-third of open-ocean sharks are classified as “threatened"” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is a legally binding treaty (international law), an agreement between governments regulating international trade of endangered and protected species. Each Party to the Convention designates one or more Management Authorities in charge of administering the rules and one or more Scientific Authorities to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species. In the UK, the CITES authority is the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and in the US, it is the US Fish & Wildlife Department (USFW). The government representative of the Parties to CITES meet every three years at their Conference of the Parties (COP) to discuss and vote on changes to the international law on wild animal and plant trade. The next COP will be held in Bangkok (Thailand), 3-14 March 2013.

One of the considerations at the CITES meeting in March concerns certain shark species in Appendix II to the convention. The proposal for including hammerhead sharks outlines the dreadful threats that these wonderful animals face, with the caveat that “It is known, or can be inferred or projected, that the regulation of trade of the species is necessary to avoid it becoming eligible for inclusion in Appendix I in the near future.” Appendix I lists the species which are most endangered , and is testament to the critical state of these species.

Horrifyingly, the proposal states that of two species of hammerhead “analysis of fin trade data indicates that 49,000–90,000t (or 1.3 to 2.7 million individuals) of S. lewini and S. zygaena are taken for the fin trade each year”.

What You Can Do

  • Contact your national CITES representative and urge them to ensure that hammerhead sharks are protected under Appendex II of CITES. Ask your friends and family to do the same.
  • Write to your local newspaper and outline some of the points made here, and ask people to support the campaign.
  • Support ADI and keep up-to-date with our campaigns by ‘liking’our facebook page and signing up to our eAlerts.

© Animal Defenders International 2020