Treaty Signed to Protect Endangered Sharks

NEW YORK, Feb. 16 (UPI) — More than 100 nations signed a U.N.-supported wildlife treaty Tuesday designed to protect shark species threatened with extinction.

The 113 countries signing the treaty are party to the U.N. Environment Program-administered Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. U.N. officials said the countries agreed to prohibit the hunting, fishing and deliberate killing of certain shark species — the great white, basking, whale, porbeagle, spiny dogfish, and the shortfin and longfin mako sharks.

“This first global CMS instrument on commercially exploited species is a decisive step forward in international shark conservation,” said UNEP/CMS Executive Secretary Elizabeth Mrema. “Wildlife conventions, U.N. agencies and international fisheries need to work together to prevent these creatures that roam the world’s oceans from becoming extinct.”

The agreement, signed during a meeting of government representatives in the Philippines, is designed to restore the long-term viability of populations of migratory sharks.

According to U.N. estimates, as much as 900,000 tons of sharks have been caught every year for the last two decades, and the actual catch figure is estimated to be at least twice as high.

Environmental studies show shark populations collapsed in the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean Sea by 90 percent and by 75 percent in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean during a 15-year span.

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