Thursday, January 10, 2013

International Trade Killing Endangered Sharks in Fiji

The Fiji Times reports this week on a possible cause of death for the 50 baby scalloped hammerhead sharks that washed up on an island near Suva, the capital city of Fiji.
Dr Demian Chapman who is an internationally recognised shark expert also conducted a study on the shark fin trade in Suva and he said there was a possibility of foul play in the deaths. “The concentration of so many washing up in an area does suggest a fishery discard. Notably, litters of 30 plus are possible in this species,” Dr Chapman said.

Perhaps a gravid female was killed and her pups removed during gutting and discarded. Fin traders would pay good money for adult scalloped hammerhead fins,” he said.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species assesses the scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) as endangered, meaning these animals face a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future.  The killing of 50 juvenile scalloped hammerheads is the moral equivalent of killing 50 baby giant pandas, sea otters, or blue whales.

Throughout most of its range, the killing of scalloped hammerheads is unregulated and unreported.  Listing this species on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix II as proposed by Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, the European Union, Ecuador, Honduras and Mexico, will improve the situation, much as it has for other animal species. Adoption of the proposal will result in strict regulation in order to avoid utilization and trade incompatible with the survival of the species in the wild.

The proposal will be adopted with the affirmative vote of 2/3 of CITES member countries at the convention of the parties being held in Bangkok, Thailand in March.  If you live in a CITES member country (such as Fiji), you can contact your government officials and ask them to vote in support of the shark and manta ray proposals.  Your country’s representative is listed on the CITES website.  You can send them emails, write letters, or make phone calls.  You can also participate in the Shark Stanley and Friends campaign and help us showcase the global support for shark and manta ray protections.

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