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General

UN body scraps shark protection pledge

media Porbeagle shark

The UN body overseeing trade in endangered species will not protect the porbeagle shark, reversing the only decision made at the two-week conference to protect high-value marine species. Meanwhile, France and Japan have rejoiced after the trade of Atlantic bluefin was not restricted.

At their meeting in Doha, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) withdrew their decision to list the porbeagle shark under Annex II, which would have regulated trade in the species.

The plenum had voted in favour of the move on Tuesday, but a second vote on Thursday reversed this decision. The meeting in Doha started on 13 March and ended on Thursday.

The parties did, however, give maximum protection to elephants in Tanzania and Zambia, despite the two countries’ continuing efforts to ease restrictions and have the status of their elephant populations changed from Annex I (illegal) to Annex II (regulated).

Reversing the decision to protect the porbeagle shark hands a total victory to Japan, China and their fisheries allies who opposed all of seven proposals related to commercial marine species, including Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The French fishermen’s committee (CNPMEM) has also welcomed Cites’ decision not to limit international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna. France, unlike the European Union, rejects an immediate bluefin tuna ban, saying it wants to wait for a report to be released next year that would scientifically prove the species’ precise stocks.

Environmental groups warned that the consequences could be severe and perhaps irreversible.

"This is a very sad day for conservation," said Sue Lieberman, policy director for the Washington-based Pew Environment Group. "The very foundation of Cites is threatened with collapse."

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