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The trade of meat and fins of multiple species of sharks and rays are to be regulated under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Of the 183-member bloc at the 18th CITES conference in Geneva, two-thirds voted to include the 18 species into the Appendix II list.

The Longfin Mako Shark, Shortfin Mako Shark, six species of giant guitarfish and ten species of wedgefish have been listed under Appendix II of CITES. All the species of guitarfish and nine out of ten species of wedgefish, both belonging to the ray family, are critically endangered.

After the secret ballot, the Mako shark listing got 102 votes in support, five abstentions and 40 against. The US later claimed that they voted against the list. Japan was vocal about being against the listing as they did not think that Mako shark populations were low.

Shark
Mako shark was caught off the coast of California (EpicToolTime/YouTube)

The guitarfish listing had 109 in support, four abstentions and 30 against. The wedgefish listing had 112 votes in support, four abstentions and 30 against.

With around 100 million sharks killed annually, most of the shark species are threatened or near-threatened. Mexico brought in the motion to add the fastest shark, the Mako, to the protected list. More than 50 countries signed as proponents supporting the listing. Countries like the US, Canada, and Japan fish and trade Mako sharks.

Mako sharks are often fished for their fins for the controversial shark fin soup. Overfishing of juvenile Mako sharks has driven the "cheetahs of the ocean" into the endangered species list.

After the plenary session at the end of the conference on August 28, the 18 species will be protected by Appendix II of the CITES.

Appendix I contains a list of endangered species, the trade of which is permitted under extremely rare circumstances. For example, on the CITES appendix list, it is stated that all species of Rhinos are protected under Appendix I all over Africa. However, a small quota of southern white rhino can be hunted.

Appendix II lists animals which are threatened or endangered. The trade of these species is restricted by CITES. The restrictions depend on the species and the level of threat they are under.

During the 18th conference, countries have already listed a number of new species like otters and giraffes under Appendix II. The trade of ivory has been heavily discussed as well as increased trophy hunting of rhinos.