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Mako sharks set for more protection in NZ waters despite Government voting against proposal

Mako sharks look set to get extra protection in our seas, despite New Zealand voting against the move at a global wildlife trade meeting.

Countries at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Geneva debated three proposals to introduce stricter regulations around the trade of 18 species of sharks and rays.

Each passed with a needed two-thirds majority.

The decisions still needs to be finalised at the end of the conference, but Jen Sawada, who directs The Pew Charitable Trusts' shark conservation work said, "today we are one step closer to protecting the fastest shark in the ocean, as well as the most threatened."

She said the move won’t ban trade completely, but it means any trade must be legal, sustainable and traceable.

The number of sharks killed each year in commercial fisheries is estimated at 100 million, with a range between 63 million and 273 million, according to The Pew Trust.

For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

"If no more fishing, no more mortalities, no more sharks were to be killed in the North Atlantic from today, scientists estimate it would be 2070 until the population recovers, even to kind of a base level where fishing would be advisable again," Wildlife Conservation Society spokesperson Luke Warwick said.

New Zealand, Japan, the US, and Canada were among those who have opposed the proposal about the mako shark.

The Department of Conservation who voted on behalf of New Zealand said: “Species are listed under CITES protection based on a set of biological and trade criteria.

"Prior to going to the conference, we have a panel of experts who analyse information relating to any species being reviewed”.

It said based on thorough analysis of global fisheries data, it does believe there are some fisheries management issues for the mako shark in some areas of the world which need to be addressed.

But it added, “however, our review found shortfin mako don’t meet the biological criteria for an Appendix II listing at this time because of their large global population, their wide geographical range and because their rates of decline don’t meet the criteria set out in the appendix.”

A spokesperson of another group at the conference, OPES Oceani, Gavin Carter said: “You come in here and people talk in emotional terms, you use the word emotional about sharks and how we've got to save them for future generations, but the reality is there's more than 20 million."

CITES background says mako sharks meet the criteria, because there are declines of 60-96 per cent in its population worldwide.

It states up to one million are caught each year, an unsustainable number driven by high international demand for their fins and meat and inadequate management.

New Zealand shark scientist Riley Elliott, who’s been campaigning for support for the CITES vote, has taken to social media about the news.

He wrote, “thank you everyone who helped these awesome creatures get some needed protection”, before going on to slam those who voted against helping makos.

“Shame on the countries who did not support, they are the seemingly first world, developed and sustainable fishery countries. New Zealand, Canada, US. What were you up to?"

1 NEWS approached Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage for a comment, but her office turned down our request, preferring to comment after the decisions are finalised later this week.

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The Department of Conservation joined Japan and China in opposing the measure. Source: 1 NEWS