Mako sharks have practically disappeared from the Mediterranean, and their numbers have plunged in other seas, too. Japan and China opposed a global initiative to save them from extinction but most countries endorsed it.
Delegates from 120 countries on Sunday adopted a proposal to protect 18 threatened species of sharks and rays, including makos, at the CITES global wildlife trade summit in Geneva, Switzerland.
The species will be listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix II if the preliminary decision is endorsed.
Makos, the fastest shark species, are rapidly disappearing from the Mediterranean Sea, and their population is dropping in the Atlantic, Northern Pacific and Indian Oceans, too. They are often targeted for their meat and fins, which are used notably in shark fin soup — a popular dish in Asian countries, particularly China.
"These two species, the 'cheetahs of the ocean', play key roles as top predators in the world's high seas, and are highly valued for their meat, along with their fins, and are caught in huge numbers globally in commercial and recreational fisheries," Luke Warwick of the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement.
The deadly Mediterranean
Mexico presented a proposal to list makos under CITES Appendix II, which means they cannot be traded unless it can be shown that fishing them won't threaten their survival.
"Fishing is the main threat being faced by sharks," said a delegate from the European Union, which backed the proposal. "We need much stronger measures" than national initiatives to prevent overfishing, he said during a heated debate in Geneva.
Japan and China opposed the proposal, arguing there was insufficient scientific data to prove that mako populations are declining as a result of trade in them.