U.S. will back bid to win Appendix II CITES protection for sharks and rays

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2013:

WASHINGTON D.C.–– U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director
Dan Ashe on February 26, 2013 told media that the U.S. will endorse
proposals to restrict traffic in the fins of porbeagle, scalloped
hammerhead, great hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, and oceanic whitetip
sharks, and in the gill plates of manta rays.
If approved by the 16th triennial meeting of the 177-nation
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Bangkok in
March, the five shark species and manta rays will be uplisted to CITES
Appendix II status. The listing proposals must be approved by
two-thirds of the national delegations in attendance. Trade in Appendix
II species is permitted but regulated to ensure species survival. Trade
is prohibited for Appendix I species.


The proposal on behalf of oceanic whitetip sharks is
co-sponsored by the U.S., Colombia, and Brazil.
U.S. District Court of Northern California judge Phyllis J.
Hamilton on January 2, 2013 upheld a California state law that bans the
sale of shark fins, adopted in October 2011. Authored by Silicon
Valley state assembly member Paul Fong, who is of Chinese ancestry,
the law was challenged as an alleged attack on Chinese culture by Asian
Americans for Political Advancement and the San Francisco Chinatown
Neighborhood Association. Similar legislation was already in effect in
Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, the Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon and
Washington.
On December 31, 2012, the City of Toronto, Canada, served
notice that it intends to appeal a November 30, 2012 ruling by Ontario
Superior Court Justice James Spence that a city bylaw banning the sale
of shark fins is discriminatory. Spence agreed that cutting the fins
off of live sharks and tossing their bodies overboard, a frequent
practice of shark fishers, is inhumane, but wrote that banning shark
fin sales “will not by itself have any identifiable benefit for
Toronto with respect to the environmental well-being of the city.”
About 95% of global shark fin consumption is in China. The
Beijing-based Green Beagle Environment Institute reported in December
2012, however, that a survey of 132 hotels in the cities of Beijing,
Shenzhen, and Fuzhou found that 12 have quit serving shark fin soup
within the past year, up from just one in a 131-hotel survey done a
year earlier.

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