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Critics: Shark Fishing Nations Fail Pledge
Thursday, 27-Jan-2011 7:44PM United Press International
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LONDON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Many countries whose fishing fleets take large numbers of sharks have failed to meet a pledge on conserving the species, a wildlife advocacy group says.

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The wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic and the Pew Environment Group say most of the main shark fishing nations are failing in monitoring the activities of their shark fishing fleets, the BBC reported Thursday.

Governments are supposed to "encourage full utilization of dead sharks" but many fishing fleets are targeting just shark fins for use in shark fin soup in great demand in China, discarding the "finned" sharks back into the ocean to die.

Sharks are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they live long lives and reproduce slowly, experts say.

Nations involved in shark fishing agreed in 2001 to identify and protect key habitats, ensure catches were sustainable, and minimize waste and discards.

But little has been done to keep to the agreement, critics say.

"The fate of the world's sharks is in the hands of the top 20 shark catchers, most of which have failed to demonstrate what, if anything, they are doing to save these imperiled species", Glenn Sant, leader of Traffic's global marine program, said. "They need to take action to stop the decline in shark populations, and help ensure that the list of species threatened by overfishing does not continue to grow."

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