The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) took place recently, and most of the world’s countries gathered to decide which species would receive international protection. There were three shark species proposed to be listed: the spiny dogfish (fish and chips), the porbeagle (like a smaller great white), and saw sharks.
These proposals would add three more sharks to the list that so far only contains the basking shark, whale shark and the great white shark. Getting species listed is often a case of politics, as only the most charismatic of megafauna tend to make it. The great white is the most recognizable shark, while the basking and whale sharks have no teeth, and are popular tourist attractions.
CITES is a bit of a popularity contest, and what is under the ocean is so often out of sight and out of mind. The first fish was put on the CITES list only in 2004, while terrestrial animals enjoyed decades of increased protection.
The movement to save sharks is growing, but it needs more pressure from consumers and the general public. The politicians and decision makers will respond, as the people have ultimate power.