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Shark Alliance urges international trade restrictions

Whether to protect eight shark species - spiny dogfish, porbeagle, oceanic whitetip, scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, dusky and sandbar sharks - that are vulnerable to international trade will be a question debated at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The Shark Alliance is calling on delegates from the 175 governments that will attend the meeting to list these threatened shark species under CITES Appendix II. Such action would require export permits for all international trade and a determination that trade is legal and not detrimental to the species' survival.

Most sharks are exceptionally susceptible to overfishing because they grow slowly, mature late, and produce few young. For example, spiny dogfish are pregnant for nearly two years and porbeagles only give birth to about four young per brood.

"Sharks are exceptionally vulnerable animals and the species proposed for CITES listing have been hit especially hard by international trade," said Heike Zidowitz, chair of Germany's shark science society, who will head the Shark Alliance delegation to the CITES meeting. "It's high time to view sharks not just as commodities, but as wildlife, and to use this wildlife treaty to control the lucrative shark trade."

Click here to read the Shark Alliance position paper and information on the shark proposals.