An international conference has voted to ban trade in some shark species whose populations have fallen to crisis levels, in part because of demand from China - the world's biggest consumer of shark fins for use in soup.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (Cites) yesterday agreed to ban international trade in the oceanic whitetip, the porbeagle and three types of hammerhead sharks unless shipments are accompanied by documentation showing they were caught legally.
Around 7 per cent of all sharks are killed each year, according to a paper in the Marine Policy journal - an unsustainable amount.
Governments will have 18 months to comply with the restrictions, agreed by a two-thirds majority of the countries at the Cites conference in Bangkok.
If countries are found to be non-compliant, they may be subject to sanctions that can cover trade in all Cites-listed species.
Asian nations led by Japan and China - where shark fin soup is a delicacy - tried in vain to block the proposals.
The vote will require final approval at a Cites plenary on Thursday, which is likely given the large majority in favour.
Humans kill about 100 million sharks each year, mostly for their fins, and conservationists are warning that dozens of species are under threat.
Hong Kong is the world's largest shark fin market with about 50 per cent of the global trade, according to campaign group Pew.
Agence France-Presse, Reuters