The shark fin market, whose center is in Hong Kong, exceeds half a billion dollars per year (483 million euros). They can sell for 1,000 dollars per kilo in East Asia to make very famous soups of traditional Chinese cuisine.
The summit, which began on November 14 and ends on Friday, could bring requiem sharks (Carcharhinidae) and hammerhead sharks (Sphynidae) into Appendix II of the Convention, which strictly limits trade in certain species. This initiative is supported by the European Union and fifteen countries, including Panama, host of the summit.
These are species that are not yet threatened with extinction but could become so if their trade is not tightly controlled. Appendix I completely prohibits trade in certain species.
This issue was most discussed at the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which brings together 183 countries and the EU.
Japan and Peru tried, without success, to exclude certain species of requiem sharks during a debate of nearly three hours in the preparatory Committee I which ended in a vote by secret ballot, with 75% of the votes. for the protection of sharks. The proposal for the protection of hammerhead sharks had to be approved then in a few minutes by consensus.
- Plush sharks -
The heat of the debates made the protection of sharks an emblematic measure of the conference and several delegations had put stuffed sharks on their desks during the Committee meeting.
The issue was to be decided on Thursday in plenary, but votes, including on the protection of hippos in Africa, took longer than expected, and the final decision was postponed to Friday's plenary.
If Friday's plenary meeting gives the green light, "it will be a historic decision because for the first time CITES would take a position on a very large number of shark species which represent approximately 90% of the market", said Panamanian delegate Shirley Binder told AFP.
"We hope that nothing unexpected will prevent the ratification of the listing of entire families of sharks in Appendix II," Chile's delegate to the conference, Ricardo Saez, told AFP.
The world "is in the midst of a great shark extinction crisis," Luke Warwick, director for shark protection at the NGO Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), told AFP. Sharks are "the second most endangered group of vertebrates on the planet", he argues.
- Guitar lines -
The COP19 plenary must also decide on the protection of guitar rays (Rhinobatidae) and freshwater rays (Potamotrygon), as well as species of crocodiles, frogs and turtles in the Amazon basin and the Orinoco. .
CITES, in force since 1975, sets the rules for international trade for more than 36,000 wild species, ranging from the issuance of permits (more than one million authorized transactions per year) to total prohibition.
Organized every two or three years, the summit took place this year in the shadows and under the influence of two other UN conferences, which are also crucial for the future of living beings on the planet: COP27 on the climate which ended on Sunday in Egypt and the COP15 on safeguarding biodiversity in December in Montreal.