Wildlife summit to vote on shark protections

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PANAMA CITY: Delegates to a global summit on the trade in endangered species have postponed until Friday (November 25) a vote on whether to approve a proposal to protect sharks, a move that could dramatically reduce the lucrative trade and often cruel shark fin.

The proposal would place dozens of species of requiem sharks and families of hammerhead sharks on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The appendix lists species which may not yet be threatened with extinction but which could become so unless their trade is tightly controlled.

If the plenary meeting gives the green light, “it would be a historic decision,” Panamanian delegate Shirley Binder, who chaired the meeting, told AFP.

“For the first time, CITES would deal with a very large number of shark species, which would represent around 90% of the market,” she said.

With a vote expected on Thursday, Binder suspended the session in the late afternoon and pushed it back to Friday, as the debate over the trade in hippos between the European Union and African countries dragged on. .

Asia’s insatiable appetite for shark fins, which end up on dinner tables in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan, has boosted their trade.

Although described as almost tasteless and gelatinous, shark fin soup is considered a delicacy and is enjoyed by the very wealthy, often at expensive weddings and banquets.

Shark fins, which represent a market of around US$500 million a year, can sell for around US$1,000 per kilogram.

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