Japan has decided to reject a landmark regulation on international trade in sharks.
The Japanese government will file a “reservation” about the regulation under the 178-member Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), restricting cross-border trade in the oceanic whitetip, the porbeagle and three types of hammerhead shark, reports AFP.
Tokyo argued that the species should be managed under existing fishery management bodies, meaning the practice of catching sharks, cutting off their fins and throwing them back to die slowly could continue.
According to Kyodo News, Japan’s decision could trigger global criticism over an apparent indifference toward efforts to preserve marine resources.
The country’s appetite for seafood has been seen as pushing some oceanic creatures toward extinction. Asian nations led by Japan and China – where shark fin soup is considered a delicacy – have attempted to block the regulation in March at a conference in Bangkok.
Shark populations have declined sharply due to over-hunting for their fins, which have no flavour but are highly valued for their texture and perceived health benefits, experts said. The regulation is aimed at protecting the species by requiring exporting countries to issue certificates of permission for international trade in sharks.