Mako sharks – known as the ‘cheetahs of the sea’ due to their phenomenal speed – have gained protection from CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).

The proposal for 18 threatened species of sharks and rays, which also included wedgefish and guitarsharks, was passed yesterday. It was tabled by Mexico, with its representative saying ‘mako shark populations are on the verge of collapse, and that is no exaggeration’,and supported by some 102 countries, though disappointingly, 40 – including the US, China, Japan and New Zealand – opposed it.

Matt Collis, director of international policy at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), said: “In the past, the US and others have supported listing other shark species under CITES, but not so in this case, with commercial interests at stake.

“For a lot of these countries, they were happy to list shark species when it was ones they weren’t so heavily involved in fishing. Suddenly, when you’re being asked to be responsible, rather than asking other people to be responsible, they’re less keen to take it on board.”

The demand for shark-fin soup is rapidly depleting the amount of sharks in our oceans, and this proposal means that the identified species can no longer be traded unless it can be proven that their fishing will not impact the possibility of their continued survival.

Mako sharks have virtually vanished from the Mediterranean, and their numbers elsewhere are shrinking quickly.

Ali Hood, director of conservation at Shark Trust, commented: “Mako are highly valued for their meat and fins. Decades of unrestricted overfishing, particularly on the high seas, has led to significant population declines.

The listing would be critical for ensuring that international trade is held to sustainable levels, prompting urgently needed catch limits and improving traceability.”

 

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