Fishing and Trade of Shortfin Mako Sharks Banned in Country Ranked Second for Regional Landings
The government of Morocco has announced a national prohibition on the fishing, storage, and trade of shortfin mako sharks (Isurus oxyrinchus), in line with a broader measure agreed in November 2021 through the International Commission for Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Although the hard-won ICCAT ban could be weakened after two years (due to EU insistence), Morocco’s ban is set to remain in place for five.
Prized for meat, fins, and sport, the shortfin mako is among the Atlantic’s most valuable and inherently vulnerable sharks. In 2019, the species was classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Endangered and listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Makos are fished across entire ocean basins by many nations. The North Atlantic shortfin mako population has been particularly depleted by overfishing. ICCAT scientists’ 2017 advice to prohibit retention was finally adopted at the 2021 ICCAT annual meeting. The ban represents the world’s first international mako catch limit.
Morocco has long ranked second, after Spain, for landings of North Atlantic shortfin makos. It is now the second ICCAT Party, after Canada, to announce a national ban to protect this beleaguered population.
Shark Trust’s Ali Hood, a leading Shark League representative in meetings of ICCAT and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean, said the following about the action:
“We commend Morocco for promptly enacting national mako protections to uphold the international commitment made through ICCAT in November 2021. The conservation community is eager to assist in ensuring these much-needed bans are strictly enforced to give this exceptionally vulnerable species a fighting chance at recovery.” Over the years, Morocco has secured exceptions to ICCAT mako fishing restrictions for vessels of and under 12 meters. The government’s recent announcement of the new national ban does not mention any length-based exemptions.