International fishery managers agree to historic yet potentially short-term North Atlantic ban

The Press Release is also available in: Français (French), Español (Spanish)

Madrid, Spain. November 23, 2021. Conservationists are heralding a hard-fought ban on retention of North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks adopted today by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as a first step toward reversing the decline of the seriously overfished population. The ban forms the core of a long-term international rebuilding plan, the first in the world for this exceptionally valuable, globally threatened species. ICCAT fishery managers agreed that, in 2022 and 2023, all retention of North Atlantic shortfin makos will be prohibited, an action that ICCAT scientists have advised since 2017. The EU – which has long taken the lion’s share of mako catch – insisted, however, on including a complicated formula that may offer a way for some Parties to resume landings after the reprieve.

Continue reading PRESS RELEASE: Endangered Mako Sharks Get A Break


To: Heads of Delegations, International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)

This week’s ICCAT meeting is the fifth one where Parties grapple with scientists’ warnings about serious overfishing of North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks. Inadequate management responses to the associated advice to ban all retention from this population risks a collapse of this valuable resource.

West and Central African researchers and scientists continue our work to protect and improve domestic management of sharks. The Sub-Regional Plan of Action for Sharks led to advances in research, data collection, and conservation throughout the region. We are increasingly concerned, however, about the role of international fishing fleets and distant markets on the dynamics of shark exploitation and trade in the region’s waters, especially with respect to oceanic sharks like shortfin makos.

Benin, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Liberia, Nigeria, and Senegal were among the countries that successfully proposed listing mako sharks under the Convention for the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). Since 2019, Senegal, Gabon, The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, and Angola have all championed through ICCAT a complete and immediate retention ban for North Atlantic shortfin makos as the cornerstone of a comprehensive rebuilding plan.

Scientists have specifically recommended a retention ban as the most effective way to achieve the substantial mortality reductions necessary to start the lengthy recovery of this shark. Such a ban is:

• Straight-forward and therefore readily enforceable for Parties in our region
• Key to changing the fishers’ incentive toward avoidance
• Likely quite effective because of the species’ relatively high post-release survival rates
• Less restrictive and economically damaging than closing entire fisheries
North Atlantic shortfin makos are now among the most endangered sharks in the world and continue to be overfished due to ICCAT inaction.
We call on all ICCAT Parties to act now and ensure immediate implementation of a ban on retention is part of any final mako agreement adopted at the 2021 Annual Meeting.

Open Letter available in English and French


Top Priority: Protect North Atlantic Shortfin Mako Sharks

The 27th Regular Meeting of The International Commission For The Conservation Of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) – 15-23 Nov – is the fifth consecutive annual meeting during which Parties will grapple with ICCAT scientists’ advice for reversing the dangerous decline of North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks.

Conservation action to prevent collapse of the exceptionally slow growing, seriously overfished North Atlantic shortfin mako population is long overdue and increasingly urgent.

Continue reading ICCAT 2021: Shark League Position Statement


International Tuna Fishery Managers Resume Negotiations That Could Result in Overdue, Historic Protection

The Press Release is available in: English, French and Spanish

PRESS RELEASE, Madrid, Spain. November 15, 2021. Conservationists are focused this week on the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the possibility of a new agreement to protect seriously overfished North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks. Since 2017, scientists have recommended a ban on retention as the most effective immediate step toward reversing decline and rebuilding the population over about 50 years. Such a ban has been repeatedly proposed by many ICCAT Parties, led most recently by Canada, Senegal, Gabon, and the UK. The main obstacles have been the EU and the US whose competing proposals for exceptions have prevented consensus for years.

Continue reading Press Release: Make or Break for Endangered Atlantic Mako Sharks


At its biannual meeting in mid-October, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Advisory Committee for the International Commission for Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) discussed agenda items for ICCAT’s 2021 annual meeting in November, including the continued overfishing of North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks. Representatives from multiple conservation organizations made the case for immediate mako protection. All of the testimony delivered in the public comment session came from conservationists urging a shortfin mako retention ban for the North Atlantic.

Continue reading U.S. Voices for Makos