Concern Over Lack Of Shark Fisheries Management

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
23 July 2010, at 1:00am

EU - Oceana has called on the EU to manage its fleets shark fisheries with quotas, recovery plans, minimum landing sizes and a fins attached landing policy

Sharks are less managed than other fish species although they have fewer offspring and play a critical role in ensuring healthy oceans, says the group.

In a new report by Oceana, The Race for Threatened Sharks, the international marine conservation organisation demonstrates how sharks are extremely vulnerable species that have been fished by European Union vessels at home and around the world without management for decades. Globally, 21 per cent of shark populations are threatened with extinction, according to the IUCN Red List, and targeted and by-catch fisheries are the main threat to their survival.

Changes in shark fishery management in the European Union have been slow, with strong proposals often rejected or weakened. Oceana is urging the responsible fisheries management bodies and authorities to pick up the pace in establishing new regulations. Specifically, the marine conservation organization demands that all shark fisheries be regulated with “fins attached” policies, catch quotas, minimum landing sizes, recovery plans or technical controls for fishing gear.

“Sharks are a lot more vulnerable to fisheries pressure than many people believe”, notes Rebecca Greenberg, marine scientist with Oceana and who will present the findings of the report in a conference this week in Palma Aquarium (Majorca, Spain).

“If we want to ensure the future of our sharks, our healthy oceans, our fisheries and our fishermen’s welfare, we have to grant sharks the same rights as other commercialised fish —this means to manage them today.”

Regulations for EU shark fisheries only began to surface in the last few years, after the long-awaited publication of the European Union Plan of Action for Sharks. These regulations are few, but important, including the closure of EU fisheries for endangered porbeagle and spurdog sharks. Spain has also taken steps to regulate its own shark fishing fleet, by prohibiting catches of vulnerable thresher and hammerhead sharks. However, these laws have yet to be imposed on the rest of the EU.

Oceana highlights the upcoming review of the EU’s shark finning regulation and November’s annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) as key moments for the EU to surge ahead in safeguarding the future of sharks.

You can view the report here.