Sri Lanka, Maldives and Fiji have called for tighter control in the trade of Thresher sharks, Silky sharks and Mobula Ray sharks as the population of these species decline.

Speaking Monday at the Convention of International Trade in Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) taking place in Sandton here, representatives from the three countries urged other nations to agree to move three species of Thresher and Silky sharks and nine species of Mobula Ray sharks to the Appendix II list of endangered species.

Appendix II species are those that are not necessarily threatened with extinction now but may become so unless trade is controlled. The three island nations whose economies are heavily dependent on marine species say that tighter regulation of the shark species will benefit everyone.

A report by the organization WildAid states that the global tourism value of the Mobula Ray sharks alone is estimated at around 100 million US dollars but adds that this could go down if the decline in the species continues.

Pew Charitable Trust, a non-government organization (NGO) which deals with the protection of endangered sharks, reports that in the Mediterranean some of the population of the three shark types has declined by almost 99 per cent as a result of inadequate management measures or poor enforcement.

The decline is global and is due to increase in demands from mainly Asian Countries. Hong Kong is considered the hub of the shark-fin trade.

Stan Shea, a Marine Programme Director from Bloom Association says that in Hong Kong, shark-fin soup is considered a delicacy and those selling the fins make a lot of money. "A shark-fin can be sold at about 1,500 USD per kilogramme," said Shea, who added that in the past few years, demand for the fins had escalated.

"Basically, we are eating faster than the sharks can reproduce. Certain shark species reproduce slowly and take time to grow," says Shea.

He says although they are already working closely with the government of Hong Kong to control the trade of the sharks, the convention is the only available platform to control the shark trade globally.

Luke Warwick from Pew Charitable Trust agrees. Warwick says it important for shark trade regulation to be a global effort because most sharks are migratory and care nothing about borders. If they are protected in one country's border but not in the next, they are still all endangered.

Governments from countries represented at the convention will vote on whether to move the shark species to the new listing.


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