UN Agreement Protects Seven Migratory Shark Species, But Australia Opts Out (Partially)

whale shark photo

Whale sharks are among those protected. Photo: Christian Jensen via flickr.

The United Nations Environment Programme has announced a "landmark agreement" to protect seven of the world's migratory shark species. Under the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals the hunting, fishing, or deliberate killing of the great white, basking, whale, porbeagle, shortfin and longfin mako sharks, and the spiny dogfish is prohibited. Which is a good thing; though Australia doesn't think so:Saying that three of the species on the list are faring better in Australian waters than elsewhere, Australia will not protect the porbeagle and either of the mako sharks. In addition, prohibiting killing them will hurt recreational fisheries, environment minister Peter Garrett said.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature says 17% of the over 1,000 shark species in the world are threatened with extinction and for nearly half we simply don't have enough data to assess their conservation status. When it comes to open-water sharks though one-third of them are threatened.

As Mongabay points out:

Long gestation periods, few young, and long maturation makes sharks particularly vulnerable to fishing and other human impacts on the ocean. In just 15 years sharks have been devastated in the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Mexico: with a 90 percent drop in populations. Shark populations have dropped by 75 percent in the northwestern Atlantic over the same time period.

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