Japan Rejects CITES Shark Listings

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The Japanese government has decided to reject landmark rules on the trade in sharks, an official said Friday, opting for status quo despite a global push to protect the predators. Japan is filing a "reservation" regarding the sharks listed on Appendix Ii by the 178-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to restrict cross-border trade in the oceanic whitetip, the porbeagle and three types of hammerhead shark. Dozens of species of sharks are currently under threat. Some 90 percent of the world's sharks have disappeared, primarily due to the demand for their fins, an ingredient in shark fin soup.

Japan and China, where shark fin soup is considered a status symbol, attempted to defeat the proposals at the CITES meeting in Bangkok, but the proposal received overwhelming support by the rest of the nations.

Tokyo's move, Kyodo News said, risks global criticism of Japan, whose appetite for seafood has been seen as pushing some oceanic species, most notably bluefin tuna and whales, toward extinction.

Japan has long faced criticism from the world for its position on whaling. Despite prohibitions by the International Whaling Commission, Japan continues to kill whales under the guise of “scientific research and whale meat sold in Japan’s supermarkets.

Japan has truly become a renegade nation whose appetite for the world’s marine resources and disregard of international treaty organization such as CITES threatens every other nation.