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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Step forward for international shark conservation
The Shark Alliance welcomes a landmark agreement by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) aimed at reducing fishing on North Atlantic shortfin mako and porbeagle sharks.
ICCAT Members adopted the binding measure at their annual meeting, which wrapped up yesterday. The international fisheries body reportedly failed to consider stronger protection for the porbeagle shark, considered endangered throughout the North Atlantic, but did direct its scientists to review the populations status and develop conservation recommendations.
"ICCATs decision is a step forward on a long road to international shark conservation," said Sonja Fordham, Shark Alliance Policy Director, who participated in the meeting.
"The call for shark fishing cuts must be promptly heeded by Member countries and refined based on scientific assessments next year. Whereas we are pleased by the action, international fisheries bodies are still not offering sharks the high priority that is warranted by their biological vulnerability, poor status, and rising value. Complementary action through wildlife conventions and new, global agreements for sharks must also be pursued."
A Uand ICCAT, but more concrete action is urgently needed," said Heike Zidowitz, chair of the German shark science society who attended both the ICCAT and the CITES meetings.
"It is now imperative that the EC demonstrate stated commitments to conserve the European porbeagle population, the most depleted in the world. EU Fisheries Ministers must agree at their meeting next month to end targeted porbeagle fishing and minimise bycatch, if we are to prevent irreparable harm to this exceptionally vulnerable population."
Conservation group Oceana commented: Despite data gaps, we know that mako sharks make up an increasingly significant portion of Spanish longline catches and can no longer be brushed aside as only bycatch, said Sandrine Polti, Oceana scientist who served as an observer to the meeting.
This vulnerable species is clearly now a target of fishermen and must be managed accordingly. The fact that countries like Spain, the top shark fishing nation in Europe, are not even reporting shark catches to ICCAT is simply appalling.
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