Applaud New Rules to Protect Endangered Sharks

Target: Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES)

Goal: Applaud a recent decision to upgrade the protected status of three endangered shark species

The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), an international treaty body designed to protect endangered plants and animals, is currently meeting in Bangkok. Members recently voted to upgrade the status of three endangered shark species. These endangered sharks’ fins are prized for use as the central ingredient to shark fin soup, a delicacy in East Asia.

Japan and China, whose populations consume such sharks in shark fin soup, have blocked such a change in regulations for years, but the shift was pioneered by South American nations in whose waters many of these sharks are caught. Many of these countries have come to see that the dwindling sharks are more valuable to them alive than dead. The sharks often serve as a tourist attraction.

Unfortunately, this upgrade in status does not amount to an outright ban in the trade of these sharks. It only regulates it, meaning that shark fishers must apply for licenses and not exceed a pre-determined number of shark catches. The trade should be banned, but upgrading the status of these sharks to be protected at all is a positive step in the right direction.

The decision is a landmark for the CITES body in regulation of marine species. Until now it had been focused on land animals and plants, leaving marine species relatively ignored. Activists have called this step a landmark breakthrough for marine life protection.

Sign the petition below to thank CITES for protecting endangered sharks and to ask for still more protection for endangered marine life.


Dear Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species,

Your recent vote to protect three endangered shark species from overfishing was a welcome development. For too long, your organization inadequately protected marine life from overexploitation and hunting. This is landmark decision by your organization.

Japan and China, both of whom were and are against such protective measures, continue to import shark fins as an ingredient in shark fin soup, and opposed the measure you passed. Because of this continued demand for endangered species, it is your responsibility to eventually move toward banning the trade in endangered sharks completely.

Still, I thank you for your first effort at protecting these animals.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: richard ling via Flickr

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