Is Shark Finning Illegal?

Since 2000 several countries have adopted laws within their waters to ban this practice. A few, such as the United States and Australia, have successfully enforced these new laws, yet even we have loopholes allowing fins to be detached from the body and transported in some areas.  These loopholes can lead to a misrepresentation of species captured, smuggling of fins, and more sharks killed than actually reported. The ICCAT and the West PAC; member commissions of Atlantic and Pacific pelagic fisheries have banned shark finning in their tuna and swordfish longline fleets.  This is a good start but difficult to enforce against smugglers or poachers.  Although over 100 species are listed by the IUCN as endangered or threatened, only a few species are protected from illegal trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). Small boats and nations who do not recognize CITES or other treaties are actively shark finning with immunity from punishment.  Given the 2010 denial by CITES nations to protect Great Hammerhead and other threatened sharks, the only real protections will be national efforts to regulate fisheries, and local efforts to limit consumption and stopping the fin trade.