Today, I offer up a hammerhead shark as Pic of the Day, in honour of the recent CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) conference decision, at which several species of sharks, including hammerheads, as well as much beloved manta rays, were deemed threatened, and placed on a protection list.
The issue was hotly debated at the CITES conference, with both China and Japan campaigning hard against any protection of the sharks. After all, that would mean the price of a bowl of soup would go up a bit…
The shortsightedness with which the world’s fishermen are pulling millions of sharks out of the water every year is staggering. The sharks are for the most part finned (alive!), with the body being thrown back into the sea, as the meat is not deemed profitable to market. But the fins? With which a (marginally nutritious) soup is concocted and served at astronomical prices per bowl as a sign of prestige and wealth? They are the hot commodity.
The CITES move is a good one, and useful for some sharp messaging to the shark fin fishing/trade/consumer communities, but I fear it may too late by the time any kind of meaningful enforcement can be put into place to protect these very threatened species. When fins are brought to market, it would seem to be a very difficult undertaking to even determine which species they are from, not to mention determining if the shark was caught “sustainably”.