In a groundbreaking decision, world governments have awarded increased protections to 54 species of sharks at the 19th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). "This decision is the most significant step toward improving global shark management that countries have taken," says Mark Bond, a biologist at Florida International University and an advocate for the CITES protections. "It will ensure international shark trade is regulated and traceable."
Sharks and rays, which are fished for their fins and meat, are the second most threatened vertebrate group in the world, with a third of them threatened with extinction. The inclusion of these sharks on the CITES list helps ensure only legal and sustainable trade in fins and meat is taking place. Almost every shipment of shark products will now require a permit to prove that trade meets legal and sustainability requirements. Before the decision, there were few restrictions in place around the globe.