Mako sharks now have greater protection

 It's official, the fastest sharks in the ocean will now have greater protection.

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New Zealand opposed the vote based on scientific advice says The Department of Conservation. Source: 1 NEWS

The decision about trade of the mako shark worldwide has been finalised, as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Geneva, has come to a close.

New Zealand was one of approximately 40 parties who voted against the proposal for stricter regulations earlier this week while over 100 parties voted in favour.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) said "The purpose of CITES is to regulate international trade, to ensure that trade in endangered animal and plant species does not threaten their long-term survival in the wild".

DOC Principal Science Advisor Hugh Robertson told 1 NEWS, New Zealand's opposing vote was based on "the advice of NZ Scientific Authorities Committee which is a mix of scientists from MPI, NIWA, universities and the Department of Conservation".

"We looked at the evidence we have in the New Zealand region, we looked at the evidence from the UN FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) expert panel and also from the CITES secretariat, all of which felt this particular proposal didn't meet the biological criteria that is established within the convention", Mr Robertson said.

Information provided by CITES states there have been declines of 60-96 per cent in the mako shark population worldwide.

"We believe that sort of decline has occurred in some fisheries, particularly in the Meditteranean and North Atlantic, is probably somewhere near the 60% mark", said Mr Robertson. "But in the Pacific and specifically in the South Pacific Region, populations of mako sharks seem to be doing very much better and catch statistics in the New Zealand region show the population is near stable".

He said, "Overall worldwide there's in the order of some 20 million of these mako sharks still in existence, so they're by no means a rare species".

NZ shark scientist and advocate Riley Elliott is disappointed in the postion taken by DOC.

He wrote, "Their reasoning in my opinion was unjustified, and against what a conservation department should be about".

Mr Robertson told 1 NEWS there will lots of varying opinions in New Zealand.

In a statement DOC's Sam Thomas said, "Despite our objective stance to not support listing mako sharks internationally, we are very happy to enforce the management of all species listed under CITES."

However, Mr Robertson doesn't believe much will change here as a result.

"Mako sharks are covered by our quota management system, so that's equivalent to the Appendix II listing that's now been approved at this particular conference", he said. "So it's not really going to affect New Zealand fishery at all".

"The only thing is that exporters will need to have permits to export, and that means sports fishers who want to say, send jaws overseas, if they've come from overseas and have caught mako sharks in our waters then they'll need an export permit".

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said although New Zealand voted against the proposal for mako sharks, "I am pleased for Pacific Parties to CITES who were co-proponents that their proposal was successful".

She also said, "The Conference of the Parties on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) achieved good progress in better regulating the trade in endangered species with 26 new species listed".

New Zealand supported the strengthening of protection for guitarfish, wedgefish, elephants, and giraffes.

Ms Sage says the team also successfully opposed proposals to open up trade in rhino horn and elephant ivory.