There is international agreement on the protection of 18 threatened species of sharks and rays. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) agreed on Sunday to give greater protection for the marine creatures from actions such as commercial fishing and hunting. Many of the threatened species are hunted for their meat and fins. Some of the species being protected are the world's fastest shark (the mako shark), wedgefishes and guitarfishes. Luke Warwick of the Wildlife Conservation Society said: "Sharks are vulnerable wildlife....Momentum is clearly building to ensure that these species, which have been around for 400 million years, continue to be around for future generations."
CITES is an international treaty established in 1973 to protect endangered animals and plants. It has been signed by 182 different states, plus the European Union. There was not widespread agreement at the weekend's meeting. The focus of the meeting was on protecting sharks. The number of sharks killed each year by commercial fishing is estimated at 100 million. One conservation group said this figure could be as high as 273 million. Forty countries disagreed that the mako shark was in danger. They argued that there was not enough evidence to show that the mako was disappearing as a result of fishing. The global shark fin market is estimated to be over $1.2 billion.