Last week there was some great news for the Sphyrna lewini species of hammerhead shark as Costa Rica awarded Appendix III CITES protection to the beleaguered species.
Found mostly along the coasts of its natural range in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans hammerhead shark fins are one of the most prized in Asian markets. Because these scalloped hammerheads swim in large schools, they are targeted by fisheries and particularly susceptible to overfishing. The high commercial value of the shark’s fins combined with the low value of hammerhead shark meat has led to widespread finning of the species, a wasteful and often illegal practice in which the fins are severed only to have the shark thrown back into the ocean to die a slow, painful death.
Defenders of Wildlife worked closely with the Costa Rican government to secure this listing for the hammerhead shark, and while it is an important first step towards worldwide shark conservation more countries and their leaders must recognize that this wasteful practice must stop.