June 09, 2007 14:47 ET

WWF/TRAFFIC: Canada & Trade Convention Failing Sharks

THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS--(Marketwire - June 9, 2007) - Canada was instrumental in ensuring that two shark species highly prized for their meat and fins have not gained trade protection under CITES, the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The porbeagle shark is principally used for fresh, frozen and dried-salted meat across Europe. Spiny dogfish is used in fish and chips in the UK, where it is often called "rock salmon" or "huss", and as a smoked meat delicacy in Germany, called "Schillerlocken". Both species are fished in Canada and Canada is the world's biggest exporter of dogfish.

"Many shark species in Canada and globally are in steep declines, due mainly to over-fishing, and to unsustainable international trade," said Ernie Cooper, Director, TRAFFIC and Wildlife Trade, WWF-Canada.

Both shark proposals had been submitted by Germany on behalf of the European Union for an Appendix II CITES listing, but discussions at the CITES meeting today rejected the proposals. Although a majority of member countries supported the proposals, they were defeated by a blocking minority. If the proposals had been successful, the member countries of CITES, including Canada, would have been required to show that trade in these species was not detrimental to their survival. Canada not only voted to defeat the proposals, but also gave an impassioned speech asking the other 170 member countries to vote against these proposals.

"The failure to list spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks on Appendix II is a triumph of politics over conservation," said Cooper. "We needed action, not procrastination."

The international trade of porbeagle and spiny dogfish sharks is not controlled. As a result, populations have dramatically declined in the North Atlantic-by up to 95 per cent for the spiny dogfish and 89 per cent for the porbeagle, in the last ten and 40 years respectively.

"If CITES discards this opportunity, it may be the end of the line for these two sharks and a fatal recipe for some of the favourite seafood dishes of European consumers." said Steven Broad, Director of TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.

Three-quarters of the world's commercial fish stocks are already over-exploited, fished right up to their limit or recovering from collapse.

Scientists recently discovered that 90 per cent of the big predatory fish, such as sharks, have been stripped from the oceans by industrialized fishing vessels.

Editors Notes:

The porbeagle shark is a powerful, medium-sized, highly migratory shark. There is international demand for, and trade, in its high-value meat and fins. It is also used in fertilizer.

Spiny dogfish is a slender, smaller sized white-spotted shark that grows to about one metre long and travels in schools. It is found in cool, coastal waters worldwide.

Contact Information

  • TRAFFIC & Wildlife Trade, WWF-Canada
    Ernie Cooper
    (604) 376-6096
    WWF Global Species Programme
    Joanna Benn
    Communications Manager
    + 31 634163140
    Email: jbenn@wwfspecies.org
    WWF International's Press Office
    Olivier van Bogaert
    +41 794773572
    Email: ovanbogaert@wwfint.org
    TRAFFIC International
    Richard Thomas
    Communications Coordinator
    +31 634163625
    Email: richard.thomas@trafficint.org