With the listing of hammerhead sharks in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) during the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (CoP16) held from March 4th -14th in Bangkok, Thailand, the world expressed the urgent need to protect this species from the threat posed by the international trade of its products,
particularly fins, which are highly prized to prepare shark fin soup in Asia. The latest scientific information available indicates that up to 100 million sharks are killed each year to meet the demand of the international market, which has led to a 90-95% demise of global hammerhead shark populations. The need for action is
Randall (second from left) with fellow Hammerhead supporters in Bangkok
something that the Asian block of nations, led by Japan and China, weren’t about to allow.
Randall Arauz and Jose Truda Palazzo Jr from Divers For Sharks
implementations measures are easy? In addition, artisanal fishers are not affected by Cites any way whatsoever, as they trade mainly juvenile sharks in domestic markets. In any case, if anything at all they benefitted by the measure, as it guarantees the sustainable exploitation of adults in the high seas. incredibly enough, one of the main hurdles to overcome in order to achieve this victory in Cites emanated internally, from the very own fisheries management departments of each Central American country, all of which echoed the same technically unsubstantiated claims by Japan and China to oppose the proposal.
authorities and thus consolidated a block in favor of the hammerhead shark, which was joined by South America, Mexico, Canada, USA, the European Union and a block of West African nations. And thus, Japan and China failed in their attempt to derail the hammerhead proposal, which was supported by more than two thirds of the 177 CITES member countries, as well as their effort to call for a second vote during plenary meeting, which could have
succeeded if they would have had the support of one third of the member countries.
Their defeat was overwhelming. Hurrah for Hammerhead Sharks! I believe that if Japan and China learned anything at all, its that in Latin America we aren’t going to take the overfishing and depletion of sharks anymore. I just hope that the fisheries authorities of the region, that have been dedicated for decades to defend the interest of foreign fleets over the public interest, learned this lesson as well.
- Randall Arauz
President of Pretoma
Originally published in La Nacion Costa Rica on April 1st 2013