As we say farewell to 2009 and hello to 2010, new tools are becoming available for shark conservation. Soon the issue of shark fins will be changed from a "cultural issue" to an "endangered species trafficking issue."
It's all in the DNA:
Millions of shark fins are sold at market each year to satisfy the demand for shark fin soup, a Chinese delicacy, but it has been impossible to pinpoint which sharks from which regions are most threatened by this trade.
Now, groundbreaking new DNA research has, for the first time, traced scalloped hammerhead shark fins from the burgeoning Hong Kong market all the way back to the sharks geographic origin. In some cases the fins were found to come from endangered populations thousands of miles away. These breakthrough findings provide strong evidence for enacting international trade protection for hammerhead sharks at the March 2010 CITES meeting in Qatar.