Whale Shark FAQ
by Shark Research Institute
: Threats and Protection
What are the threats to whale sharks?
Young whale sharks have many predators, especially larger sharks. As they mature, their only natural predators are killer whales and white sharks.
On the other hand, human impacts on whale sharks are significant. While they are not actively fished by any Western nation, whale shark fins are highly valued in some places. Unfortunately, in much of the developing world, including Indonesia, whale sharks are slaughtered and their fins and flesh exported to Taiwan, Singapore and Korea.
How are whale sharks protected?
In Australia, Honduras, India, the Maldive Islands, the Philippines—and along the eastern coast of the United States—whale sharks are protected. All trade in whale shark products (fins, flesh and skin) is prohibited. South Africa is considering similar legislation.
On November 15, 2002, the whale shark and the basking shark were placed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), a United Nations Treaty Organization. The Appendix II listing requires the 160 member nations of CITES to monitor international trade in whale shark products and to ensure that trade does not threaten survival of the species.
The whale shark is also listed on Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species (also known as “CMS” or “The Bonn Convention”).
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