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Sri Lanka scales up its domestic campaign to protect sharks with a global push

05 / 09 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

Decades ago along the beaches of Sri Lanka, fish sellers used bicycles to transport their catch, including sharks. It was said the sharks were often so big that, when tied down to the bicycle frame, their snouts and tail fins would touch the ground at either end. “But not anymore,” says Hiran Jayawardene, the founder and chairman of the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA). He says this decline is evident at shark landing sites around the country, where fishermen are no longer pulling in the large sharks they did before. Sri Lanka’s waters are home to 63 shark and 42 ray species, but many are threatened by overexploitation to feed the growing demand for shark fins, meat, and liver oil. The result of the voting at the CITES summit in Geneva in favor of the uplisting of mako sharks to Appendix II. Image courtesy of IISD Reporting Service. But the country is looking to change that, rolling out a raft of regulations in the past two decades to protect various shark species domestically, and, more recently, spearheading a push for the global protection of highly exploited and endangered mako sharks. Among the many proposals it supported at last month’s global summit of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Sri Lanka called for the inclusion of the two species of mako sharks, shortfin (Isurus oxyrinchus) and longfin (I. paucus), in CITES Appendix II, which would subject their trade to strict rules. It also called for…

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