Monday, April 1, 2013

Deconstructing Shark Fin Industry Spin III

Guest Blog
by AJ Sablan

A letter to the editor in the South China Morning Post by Charlie Lim, Conservation and Management Committee Chairman of the Marine Products Association, contains some excellent shark fin industry spin. These are some of the first post-CITES messages coming from industry and they portend what we can expect in the coming years.

The victory at this year’s Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora was the result of years of hard work. After losing all of the shark proposals in 2010, pro-conservation countries and NGOs reassessed and readapted their strategies to address the arguments against listing sharks on Appendix II. Now that they’ve lost, it is industry’s turn.

The science behind the shark listings was undeniable and the opponents did not even bother to question it. They questioned the implementation. Proponents worked tirelessly to prove the listings could work. For example, the Pew Charitable Trusts developed an easy to use shark fin identification guide and the European Union pledged 1.3 million Euros to support implementation.

The successful listings were a blow to industry, which has benefited from the unregulated nature of the shark fin trade for many years. Starting in 18 months when the CITES listings go into effect, the unsustainable and illegal trade of shark fins of these species will end. Exporting countries will have to issue non-detriment findings and permits for trade to continue.

Industry is trying to change that narrative. Like the United States during the Vietnam War, they are attempting to declare victory and go home. Lim writes that CITES was not a loss, but “an opportunity to cooperate to improve the sustainability of shark fishing. It is time to bury hatchets and work together to ensure the CITES decisions are implemented.”

Mr. Lim goes on to point out how implementation is the responsibility of everyone but the traders. He then ominously threatens that, “Future CITES involvement in fisheries will clearly depend on just how effectively the identification and strict trade controls are implemented.”

Expect industry to make implementation as difficult as possible.

Alyssa Sablan is Shark Defender's student intern.

1 comment:

Shark Defenders said...

Mr. Lim also claims that the new listings should not be seen as an intention by CITES to list all shark species, most of which are not threatened by trade. We've addressed this in previous blogs.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species assesses only 143 of the 450 or so shark species as threatened or near threatened with extinction. 143 does not meet the threshold of most sharks, it only reaches the threshold of many sharks.

However, most of those 450 sharks are deep water species that rarely come into contact with humans and they are not the species being killed for soup. Last year, the Pew Charitable Trusts looked at what species of shark were appearing in shark fin soup and found that most of them were threatened or near threatened, including endangered scalloped hammerheads. A similar study in Vancouver had the same results. Therefore, while most sharks are not threatened, the ones killed for the fin trade are.

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