In a coup for for shark and manta conservation efforts, five species of shark and two species of manta rays will now be subject to international trade regulation under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
A required two thirds majority of CITES members voted to extend protections to oceanic whitetip sharks, porbeagle sharks, three species of hammerhead sharks, and the two species of manta rays. This marks a major increase in the number of sharks protected by CITES from three to eight species, and could prevent a total collapse of these threatened species.
Sharks are primarily targeted for their fins, which are traded to Asia for use in shark fin soup. Manta rays are caught and killed for their gill rakers — the part used to filter their food from the water — which have come into high demand in recent years as a purported health tonic used in Chinese medicine.