Report by Shark Info
IUCN Shark Specialist Group (June 2002):
In 1994 at the ninth member conference of CITES (U.N. Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)
concern was expressed for the first time about the increasing trade
with shark products and the uncontrolled exploitation of shark
populations. As a result, a resolution (Conf. 9.17, "The status of
international trade with sharks") was passed which, among other
things, draws attention to what members consider intolerable
excessive trade with several shark species which seriously endangers
their survival. The CITES Animal Committee was asked to prepare a
discussion paper prior to the 1997 conference summarizing the
biological and trade technical status of internationally traded
shark species. In addition, CITES members, the FAO (Food and
Agricultural Organization) and international organizations
responsible for fishery management were requested to initiate
programs which could provide data on the biology and trade of sharks
in time for the 11th conference in 2000. By 2000 a greater part of
the demands of the 9th conference had actually been implemented,
especially thanks to the "International Action Plan for the
Protection and Management of Sharks (IPOA Sharks) developed by the
FAO and in part initiated voluntarily by several of the parties.
The actualization of most measures proposed by IPOA Sharks is
progressing well in some countries, although at the 18th Conference
of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group and TRAFFIC it was announced that
only negligible progress had been made in those nations and
organizations actually involved in shark trade (see table below).
Between 86 and 125 nations export shark fins to Hong Kong and 113
are involved in trading shark products. The 18 largest trading
nations each record more than 10,000 tons of shark exports annually.
Of these only 29 have reported any progress in implementing IPOA
Sharks measures and only 5 have compiled any statistics on shark
populations or initiated action plans for sharks which are made
available for public scrutiny. Out of the 18 most significant
shark-catching nations, only one has even made any "provisional"
survey of their shark populations. The remaining four have national
action plans, one of which is only a draft, and all four only
partially fulfill FAO guidelines.
|Top 15 Countries of Shark Fishery Statistics (1999)
|Country||Catches in Tons ||Catches of |
(kg dry weight)
|Indonesia ||116,190 ||yes || ||597,012
|India ||72,966 ||yes|| ||315,591
|Spain ||65,786 ||yes ||yes ||970,412
|Pakistan ||54,958 ||yes|| ||55,298
|Taiwan ||42,933 ||yes ||yes ||639,869
|USA ||37,559 ||yes || ||298,821
|Japan ||35,948 ||yes ||yes ||254,207
|Mexico ||35,239 ||yes || ||269,765
|Sri Lanka ||29,360 ||yes || ||54,536
|Argentina ||27,517 ||yes || ||41,118
|Malaysia ||25,125 ||yes || ||11,895
|France ||23,323 ||yes ||yes ||3,467
|New Zealand ||19,810 ||yes ||no ||13,387
|Thailand ||19,000 ||yes || ||34,235
|Brazil ||17,820 ||yes ||yes ||185,654
|Total ||623,534 ||3,745,267
According to these fishing statistics (see table) compiled by the 15
main fin exporters, officially 3,745 tons of dried fins find their
way to Hong Kong. In a store one dried fin costs between 50 and 150
US dollars per 200 grams, depending on its quality and processing.
Under the very conservative assumption that an average store price
runs about Fr. 400.- (272 Euros) per kilogram of fins, Hong Kong is
the nerve center of the shark fin market valued at 1.4 billion Swiss
francs (953 million Euros).
Thus it does not surpise that those countries which export fins are
very reluctant, if at all willing, to implement shark protection
measures. Furthermore, it is not astonishing that the realization of
any concrete decisions made by CITES to regulate international trade
with endangered shark species was continually postponed or even
prevented completely by the fishery industry lobby.
The only chance for many shark populations thus remains the national
and international organizations dedicated to protecting sharks.
Through them pressure can be exercised on CITES partner states
against the fishery lobby. Some initial success has been registered
by WildAid and the English Shark Trust (see Brief International
News). The world's largest fin exporter, Spain, just passed a law
which strictly regulates shark catches and which should make
infamous finning unattractive for fishers.
May be published only by indicating the source: Shark Info