The Shark Trust, in concert with its Shark League partners, appreciates the opportunity to offer a final consolidated statement regarding our top ICCAT priority: science-based limits for shortfin mako sharks.
We reiterate our deep disappointment over the lack of consensus on urgently needed mako protections. ICCAT scientists have warned about makos’ inherent vulnerability for more than a decade. This year marks four years since they firstrecommended, inter alia, a South Atlantic 2001t TAC and a North Atlantic retention ban. Repeated failure to heed this advice jeopardizes an exceptionally valuable and vulnerable shark species, exacerbating risk for population collapses that are irreparable in our lifetimes. To recap:
We oppose landing allowances for the depleted North Atlantic population because they:
▪ Run counter to SCRS advice for a non-retention policy “without exception”
▪ Create incentive for irresponsible fishing practices that cause stress and ensure mortality
▪ Further delay a multidecadal recovery.
The SCRS has been clear and comprehensive in advising a North Atlantic ban. This measure:
▪ Is based on TAC scenarios that incorporate all sources of mortality, including dead discards
▪ Is deemed the most effective way to achieve the substantial reductions necessary
▪ Takes into account the species’ relatively high post-release surviva
Retention bans are not novel or overly burdensome. Such measures:
▪ Are vital to remove incentives to encounter and kill valuable, threatened species
▪ Were recommended for shark species of concern more than a decade ago
▪ Are the most common RFMO shark measure, mandated by ICCAT for many other species
▪ Have been implemented by several ICCAT Parties for many shark species
▪ Are less restrictive than closing fisheries.
More must be done. We support additional measures to minimize incidental mako mortality. Such actions are recommended to boost recovery but cannot replace the core elements of the SCRS advice.
Harmonization is increasingly warranted as Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) obligations are implemented. We welcome North Atlantic mako bans by Canada, Portugal, and Spain, as well as opinions by EU and UK CITES expert panels that find against continued North Atlantic mako trade, including high seas landings. Ensuring complementary, science-based mako safeguards across fisheries and environment authorities at domestic and international levels is not only the best path for saving makos but can also set an overdue example for conservation of many other shark and ray species
Between now and July, unilateral actions and collective prioritization are needed to minimize further damage and enable an effective intersessional agreement. We urge Parties to:
▪ Implement domestic science-based mako measures
▪ Encourage other Parties to follow suit, and
▪ Prepare to propose, promote, and agree the mako measures advised by the SCRS.