What really makes sharks the new whales is a global change in conservation priorities from “Save the whales!” to “Save the sharks!” Five species of sharks and both species of manta rays finally received trade restriction protections at an international meeting in Bangkok this month. The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species meeting brings together 177 nations every two years to determine which species should be listed in one of three appendices with varying levels of trade protection. The last CITES meeting was a total bust for sharks. Four shark-protection proposals were rejected.
This year was different. All three hammerhead species, the porbeagle shark, the oceanic whitetip, and manta rays have joined the basking shark, whale shark, and great white shark on Appendix II, which requires permits to export these species. That may not sound like much, but countries can issue permits only if fishermen prove they caught the sharks legally and sustainably—a tall order because many populations of these species have declined more than 90 percent in just the last half-century. In fact, a week before CITES convened, a study found that approximately 100 million sharks are being killed each year, primarily to meet demand for the shark fin trade. Oceanic whitetip fins can bring in $45 a pound; hammerhead fins can fetch double that. "These seriously threatened sharks and rays can finally get some breathing room to recover," says Rick MacPherson, the conservation programs director at the Coral Reef Alliance.
Well, whales dont take a chunk out of a human. Easier to be sympathetic to the plight of whales. At least me anyway.
For every human the sharks have killed, we've killed about ten million sharks.
At this point, it's hard to be sympathetic about the plight of humans in this battle. I'm just more surprised that every other animal species on the planet isn't trying to constantly kill us at each passing moment.