The trade in sharks, turtles, and other threatened species will be discussed at a global wildlife conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Panama which starts on Monday.
Conservation experts from more than 180 countries will study 52 proposals to improve animal protection levels. During its last meeting in Geneva in 2019, CITES strengthened the conservation of giraffes and came close to adopting a total ban on capturing wild African elephants and sending them to zoos.
This year, CITES members will consider a proposal to regulate the trade in hammerhead sharks, guitarfish rays and requiem sharks.
“It would be a historic moment if these three proposals are passed: We would go from controlling around 25 percent of the shark fin trade to more than 90 percent,” Ilaria Di Silvestre from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said.
Luke Warwick of the Wildlife Conservation Society said that “we are in the middle of a very large shark extinction crisis,” adding that sharks are “the second most threatened vertebrate group on the planet.”
“The trade in shark products for use in a luxury status dish of shark fin soup is driving the decline of these ancient ocean predators around the world,” Warwick added.
Sharks have been killed in huge numbers over the last few decades for their fins. People catch sharks, cut their fins and then throw them back in the sea. Without their fins, sharks sinks to the bottom of the ocean and die of suffocation. Dried shark fins are usually served in a sticky soup served in restaurants in Asia.
CITES member will also talk about a trade ban of three lizard species, three crocodile species, twelve, and various snakes could be banned.
“The freshwater turtles of the world are being exploited unsustainably and illegally for the pet trade, the collectors trade, and the food trade in Asia,” Sue Lieberman, the vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said.
Brazil has asked for a total ban on the trade of Pernambuco wood, which has alarmed musicians worldwide as Pernambuco wood is used to make bow instruments such as the cello and violins.
The growing risk of diseases transferring from animals to humans, which is linked to animal trafficking and became a big concern after the 2020 outbreak of COVID-19, will also be discussed.
Since 1975, CITES has regulated the trade in around 36,000 species of plants and animals and provides methods to help crack down on illegal trade. It sanctions countries that break the rules.