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.


The Shark Trust – with support from Ecology Action Centre, Project AWARE, Shark League, The Ocean Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Human Society International, and Sciaena – is exceptionally disappointed that Parties have once again delayed urgently needed measures to reverse declines in Endangered shortfin mako populations, despite prioritizing this issue as the only potential shark conservation action of the 2020 virtual negotiations. This latest failure represents blatant disregard for SCRS advice at the expense of one of the ocean’s most valuable and vulnerable shark species. We regret that we must amplify previous warnings about inaction exacerbating risk for stock collapses that are irreparable in our lifetimes.

Continue reading ICCAT 2020 Joint NGO Closing Statement – Plenary


The United States has been a major obstacle to securing urgently needed protections for Endangered shortfin mako sharks. Scientists associated with the International Commission for Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) have documented serious overfishing and depletion of the North Atlantic population, in particular, and have been advising a regional ban on retention since 2017.

In 2019, 16 ICCAT Parties supported heeding this advice, but opposition from the U.S. (and EU) prevented consensus, leaving the declining population woefully underprotected for another year. In anticipation of upcoming virtual ICCAT 2020 negotiations, a diverse array of 18 NGOs have united to urge the U.S. government to change course and help turn the tide for this exceptional species. Read the joint letter here.

Continue reading Eighteen NGOs call on U.S. government to change course and support international protection for Endangered mako sharks


Major seafood companies have joined an appeal to ICCAT delegations to protect shortfin mako sharks, heeding scientists’ warnings about depletion in the North Atlantic and imminent risk in the South.

The letter signed by over eighty supermarket chains, tuna buyers, and NGOs sets out urgent issues for the tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisations in 2020, highlighting mako sharks as the priority for ICCAT. While acknowledging the impacts of COVID-19 on the decision-making process, signatories believe progress can and must be made on such pressing concerns.

Read more on the NGO Tuna Forum website.