ICCAT 2021 Panel 4 Intersessional Opening Correspondence on Mako Sharks

Date: May 25, 2021

Shark Trust –with support from The Ocean Foundation, Shark Advocates International (a project of The Ocean Foundation), Ecology Action Centre, Project AWARE, Humane Society International, Shark Project, and Defenders of Wildlife –appreciates this opportunity to express our views regarding our top priority for the 2021 ICCAT Panel 4 intersessional meeting: shortfin mako shark protection.

It has been four years since ICCAT scientists concluded that the North Atlantic shortfin mako population status was so dire that a complete retention ban was immediately necessary as a starting point to stem decline. It as also been four years since the SCRS recommended establishing a South Atlantic mako TAC and more than a decade since it warned managers about makos’ inherent vulnerability to overfishing. ICCAT’s repeated failure to heed this clear and comprehensiveadvice has allowed overfishing to continue and the outlook for this species to further deteriorate.

We urge ICCAT to end the delays and secure a brighter future for this extraordinary species now.

With respect to the depleted North Atlantic shortfin mako population, we urge Parties to:

  • Prioritize and support the retention ban advised by the SCRS noting that it:
    • Is based on TAC scenarios that incorporate all sources of mortality, including dead discards
    • Is deemed the most effectiveway to achieve the substantial reductions necessary
    • Takes into account the species’ relatively high post-release survival.
  • Recall and recognize that retention bans:
    • Are vital to remove incentives to encounter and kill valuable, threatened species
    • Were recommended for shark species of concern more ten years ago
    • Are the most common RFMO shark measure
    • Have been implemented by several ICCAT Parties for many shark species
    • Are less restrictive than closing fisheries.
  • Reject any exceptions that allow landings because they:
    • Run counter to SCRS advice for a non-retention policy “without exception”
    • Create incentive for irresponsible fishing practices that maximize mortality
    • Further delay a multidecadal recovery.
  • Set a course for learning and doing more. Complementary initiatives to minimize incidental mako mortality are also needed but cannot replace and must not delay the core fishing limits.

We applaud Canada, Senegal, Gabon, U.K, Sierra Leone and Chinese Taipei for presenting the only mako proposal that includes the vital core elements of the SCRS advice: a North Atlantic retention ban and a 2001t South Atlantic TAC. The former is urgently needed to prevent irreparable collapse; the latter can prevent another crisis.

It’s make or break for makos. We urge Parties to support at the very least a North Atlantic ban and a South Atlantic TAC – as Canada and others have proposed — without further delay.

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