Already considered an endangered species, these mighty predators of the ocean have recently had to face another danger – killer whales – after a series of orca attacks on great white sharks proved to be a new threat to the species and the shark cage diving tourism sector overall.
But in addition to great white sharks, many other species of sharks - as well as various ocean and land creatures – are at peril when migrating. This is why the Convention of Migratory Species’ (CMS) Conference of Parties 12 (COP12) brought countries together to discuss how to ensure wider protection of migratory animals around the world.
According to New Scientist, “a cross-border conservation pact signed by 126 countries promises, for the first time, to extend extra protection to sharks and several other migratory species” irrespective of which country they move into.
Among “the biggest winners” at the Convention are the world’s largest fish - whale sharks – which have decreased by more than 50% in the last 75 years according to scientists.
“Governments added whale sharks to appendix I of the convention, promising to protect them domestically from killing or capture, and to safeguard their habitats,” says New Scientist.
Following the signing at the Convention, whale sharks will be protected in areas which they migrate, including Madagascar, Mozambique, Peru and Tanzania.
Other shark species that will receive wider protections include dusky sharks, angelsharks, white-spotted wedgefish, the common guitarfish and blue sharks.
Matt Collis of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, says blue sharks are “the most highly fished sharks in the world, with 20 million caught around the world each year, but they’re also the most migratory, so they’re vulnerable to fisheries everywhere” which is why countries need to “commit to international protection”.
Some shark species made the list on appendix II, “which obliges countries within a species’ migratory range to collaborate on measures to protect them”, by regulating fishing or banning finning, among other protective measures.
This year, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Benin and Brazil also joined the shark memorandum of understanding which is an ad hoc agreement signed by 41 countries so far, to coordinate protection for sharks.
WATCH: Sharks now protected no matter whose waters they swim in