The United Nations Convention on the Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) lists the whale shark, basking shark, and great white shark under Appendix II as species that are threatened with extinction. These laws regulate the trade and transport of listed species across country lines by countries that recognize the treaty. To date,169 countries have agreed to be legally bound by CITES. Nearly twice as many nations had teams in the World Cup. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has designated Red List status to nearly 100 species of sharks. A recent report finds that over 25% of North East Atlantic sharks, rays and skates are threatened with extinction.
Sea Stewards is working as part of international shark coalitions, including the International Shark Working Group to increase regulations and enforcement against shark finning and over fishing sharks and listing endangered species like Mobuliid and Manta Rays, Oceanic White Tip, Atlantic Porbeagle and three species of Hammerhead Sharks under CITEs in 2013.
Enforcement of shark finning is extremely difficult, even by countries who have such laws in place. Once the fins reach the marketplace, it is extremely difficult to determine the species or where the shark was harvested,
In 2006 investigators performed DNA testing on wholesale shark fin distributors, discovering the fins of the few protected species in Hong Kong, Singapore and here in the US. In 2010 Sea Stewards, working with the Hamilton Lab at the California Academy of Sciences sequenced 17 species of sharks from shark fins bought in San Francisco Chinatown, including endangered hammerhead sharks. Once the fin is dried and treated, the species is nearly unidentifiable. The protections in place are not strong enough, or broad enough to protect sharks.
This is why shark fin trade bans are so important.