Conservationists at a global wildlife conference in Bangkok voted to regulate the trade in sharks today.
Delegates at the triennial meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna adopted proposals to put the oceanic whitetip, hammerhead and porbeagle sharks on a list of species whose trade is closely controlled.
More than two dozen species of shark are officially endangered and more than 100 others are considered vulnerable.
Like manta rays, sharks are seen as valuable to nations with dive tourism industries, with island territories such as the Bahamas, Fiji and the Maldives deriving major benefits.
Eleven nations including Brazil, the US and Egypt proposed regulating trade in the species.
Shark Advocates International founder Sonja Fordham was pleased with the votes.
"These highly traded, threatened shark species urgently need protection from the unsustainable trade that jeopardises populations, ecosystems, livelihoods, and ecotourism," she said.
Wildlife Humane Society International deputy director Rebecca Regnery added that the proposal adoptions were "the only way to truly give some of the most heavily traded species a respite from the commercial onslaught."
Supporters said the species' numbers have declined due to overfishing and being accidentally caught by fishermen chasing other types of fish.
Japan and China were among the proposals' opponents.
They argued that shark population control should be handled by regional fisheries management organisations.