February 18th, 2016. Government representatives and environmentalists attending the second meeting of signatories to the United Nations Environment Program’s Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks, or Sharks MOU, agreed to work to enlist coastal communities in protecting the marine predators.
A total of 22 species of sharks and rays facing extinction were added to the memorandum, with participants calling for shark conservation and sustainable fishing.
These species include five sawfish, three bigeye thresher sharks, reef manta rays, nine mobula rays, silky sharks, great hammerhead sharks and bullhead sharks.
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals estimates that between 63 million and 273 million sharks are slaughtered each year around the world.
Sharks are vulnerable to overexploitation because they grow slowly, mature late and produce small numbers of offspring.
Shark and ray populations have been reduced around the world by the fast growth of unregulated fishing practices.
Costa Rican fisherman and environmentalist William Flores said consumers in Asian countries seeking shark fins were responsible for the decline in the marine predators’ numbers.
“The war here is against the enemy, not the sharks, Asians who deplete the eastern Pacific Ocean are the problem, fishing outside 200 nautical miles, where no one says anything to them,” Flores told EFE.
About 100 environmentalists and government officials from Australia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, the United States, New Zealand, European Union countries and Latin America took part in the conference.