Endangered shark species will be protected after more than 100 countries agreed to a United Nations-supported wildlife treaty, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said.
The 113 countries that are party to the UNEP-administered Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) agreed to prohibit the hunting sharks, fishing sharks and deliberate of killing sharks species covered in an appendix to the CMS – the great white, basking, whale, porbeagle, spiny dogfish, shortfin and longfin mako sharks.
Illegal fishing and trade are not the only factors that have affected the population of migratory sharks. UNEP indicated that habitat destruction, depletion of prey species, pollution with a high risk of mercury intoxication, boat strikes and climate change on the marine environment all seriously threaten sharks.
There are also obstacles like gestation periods of up to 22 months, a life expectancy of up to 100 years, relatively low reproductive rates, migratory patterns, and low natural mortality that make the protections of sharks even more difficult, considering the abundant over-fishing.
Studies show that shark populations decreased significantly in both the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean Sea by 90 per cent, and by 75 per cent in the north-western Atlantic Ocean within 15 years, said UNEP.