There has been long-standing global concern for shark and ray populations under pressure from consumer demand for their fins, meat, skin, and liver oil. This has now reached crisis point.
Historically, most fisheries have taken place in the absence of even the most basic forms of management. In 2014, the IUCN Shark Specialist Group assessed the conservation status of over 100 shark and ray species, finding that there is a severe lack of data on sharks and rays at large. Today, the latest 2021 IUCN Red List assessment finds that over one-third are threatened with extinction and that overfishing is one of the biggest threats to their survival.
Banning shark fin trade will breed a powerful illegal market that will overshadow conservation efforts. Traceability systems are the only answer to over-exploitationGlenn Sant, Fisheries Programme Leader
There is growing acceptance at the international level that management of shark and ray fisheries is critical if further overexploitation of these resources is to be curtailed.
Broad, but non-binding commitments have been made by States to resolve the issue, however, many governments lack the resources, expertise, and political will necessary to effectively conserve the vast majority of sharks and rays. As a result, many of these species have continued to decline and international calls for a ban on products such as shark fins are on the increase. Recent years have revealed an increasing array of aquatic species also threatened by mismanagement of fisheries.
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