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International Convention Moves To Limit Shark 'Finning' Trade

Delegates to an international species conservation conference held in Bangkok, Thailand, this week have agreed to limit the trade shark fins and meat.

NPR's Christopher Joyce reports that government representatives to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, have agreed to put the porbeagle, oceanic whitetip, three kinds of hammerhead shark and two kinds of manta ray on its Appendix II list, which places restrictions on fishing, but still allows limited trade.

Joyce says "conservation groups have been trying for years to curtail the widespread killing of sharks for their meat and for shark fin soup," which is considered a delicacy in China and elsewhere in Asia.

The listing must be confirmed in a formal vote this week. It follows a failed attempt last week to list the polar bear as endangered, Joyce says.

According to The Independent newspaper, scientists estimate that almost 100 million sharks are caught each year and since they are slow growing and slow to reproduce, they are especially vulnerable to overfishing.

"Although some regions, including the European Union, have banned shark finning, commercial fishing for fins, meat, liver oil, cartilage and other body parts is largely unregulated in much of the world, conservationists warn. Some countries have been reluctant to include marine species, which can generate large revenues, in the treaty that regulates or bans international trade in wildlife. The shark fin business is worth an estimated [$475 million] a year."

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