As CITES approaches, work continues to alleviate attacks on shark fins

Shark fins on display in a Chinese restaurant. c. IFAWShortly after the dawn of 2013, a federal judge thankfully denied an attempt to delay implementation of California's law banning restaurants from serving shark fin soup. 

Shark finning is the gruesome practice of cutting off a shark’s fins and/or tails while it is still alive. The shark is then tossed back into the water to slowly bleed to death or drown. At least 73 million sharks in the Pacific—many of whom are endangered species—suffer this fate each year in order to meet the demand for shark fin/tail soup, a delicacy in Asian markets.

While shark finning bans in the U.S. have made remarkable progress, allowing the trade anywhere provides a loophole that significantly compromises an already severely imperiled species.

Shark finning is a global problem, and it is imperative not only that that state bans are upheld, but that global legislation addresses it. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) offers the best possible solution.

CITES has a unique role to play in the conservation and ecologically sound management of sharks. However, at the most recent CITES meeting in 2010, the convention failed to heed protections for the species when every proposal (except one) to protect sharks was voted down.

An uplisting on Appendix II set forth in Res. Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP15) would have given sharks a fighting chance against the devastation that shark finning is causing around the world.

With the next CITES meeting only a few short months away, the International Fund for Animal Welfare is working to ensure that sharks receive the protection they so desperately need. Fins are a key ingredient to a sharks’ survival, not to a soup.  We cannot effectively protect sharks without eliminating the market for shark fins.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
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Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
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