Just two days after rejecting a similar measure, the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species voted this week to protect whale and basking sharks. This is the first time CITES has included a shark species on its protected list.
Unlike most sharks, both whale and basking sharks are filter feeders who grow to large sizes (the whale shark can grow to more than 60 feet long) by feeding on plankton.
The population of both species have declined in recent years in part due to the practice of finning, where sharks are captured, their fins chopped off, and the animals then returned to the water where they die.
The sharks are not fully protected from such hunting, but countries that do hunt them will be required “to take the necessary steps to prove that their trade isn’t posing a detriment to the species.”
UN body protects monster-sized sharks. Michelle Pinch, CNN, November 27, 2002.