Oceana Applauds CITES Decision on New Global Shark Protections and Illegal Shark Trading - Oceana USA

Oceana Applauds CITES Decision on New Global Shark Protections and Illegal Shark Trading

Continuing a long history of conservation, new regulations increase transparency and management of international shark trade

Press Release Date: November 25, 2022

Location: Washington, DC


Dustin Cranor, APR | email: dcranor@oceana.org | tel: 954.348.1314

Global leaders at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora’s (CITES) 19th meeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP19), also known as the World Wildlife Conference, today voted to enact new tools to reduce illegal shark trading. The final plenary session of the countries voted to confirm earlier votes to increase protections for 54 species of the requiem sharks and remaining unlisted hammerhead sharks, by adding these species to Appendix II, which will require CITES Parties to more closely regulate trade in sharks. 

Gib Brogan, campaign director at Oceana, released the following statement in response to the news:

“Today’s decision by the CITES CoP is a major victory for global shark conservation. This decision will bring helpful tools to bear in the fight to reduce illegal shark trading around the world. These votes expand the almost 50-year legacy of CITES playing a critical role in reversing the dangerous decline in threatened and endangered species. If fully implemented and effectively enforced, the new rules will require more responsible management and oversight of the majority of international trade in sharks.  

But sharks need more.

Oceana thanks the U.S. CITES delegation and calls on Congress to take additional action and pass the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, which will reinforce the United States’ status as a leader in shark conservation, and bring the world closer to ending the devastating global shark fin trade by removing the United States from this trade altogether.”

Background on U.S. Shark Fin Trade: 

A  study  published in Nature last year found that global oceanic shark and ray populations have declined by more than 70% over the last 50 years, with overfishing as the primary cause. 

The demand for shark fins incentivizes overfishing and shark finning, the cruel and wasteful practice of removing a shark’s fins at sea and throwing its body back overboard where it drowns, starves to death, or is eaten alive by other fish. Fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year. Just as rhino and elephant populations have declined due to the demand for their horns and tusks, the shark fin trade is jeopardizing the continued survival of many shark populations. 

Although shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, fins can still be bought and sold throughout much of the United States. These fins are often imported from countries that have inadequate protections in place for sharks such as China, which still allows shark finning to take place in its waters. Not only are there fins from finned sharks in the U.S. marketplace, but the United States is also providing an economic incentive for other countries to fish for sharks in ways that are illegal in U.S. waters. 

According to a poll released by Oceana in 2020, nearly 9 in 10 registered American voters oppose the practice of shark finning, and almost 80% support legislation to ban the sale and trade of shark fins throughout the United States. 

As of today, 13 states, more than 45 airlines, 15 major corporations (including Amazon, Hilton, and Disney), and 22 shipping companies have refused to transport or trade shark fins. Nearly 700 businesses — including more than 100 dive shops and scuba businesses, several aquariums, and SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment — support a national fin ban. Other support includes more than 150 scientists, 150 chefs, 140 fishermen, and 85 surfers, and surf businesses.