At this week’s hotly anticipated meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), Shark League partner groups (Shark Trust, Ecology Action Centre, and Shark Advocates International) are working closely with colleagues from Defenders of Wildlife to urge Parties to adopt science-based safeguards for pelagic sharks. Here is our opening statement.
Source: Shark Conservation Fund.
Author: Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International.
European Union (EU) fishing vessels are still landing endangered Atlantic mako sharks, essentially without limit. The international body capable of regulating high seas Atlantic mako catches considers new restrictions this week. Recovery of this valuable, beleaguered species depends on the EU living up to its conservation commitments, immediately.
The Shark League is calling on Atlantic fishing nations to take decisive action to safeguard sharks at the upcoming annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Specifically, we’re urging ICCAT Parties to propose and work for the immediate adoption of:
See our letter for details and stay tuned to #SharkLeague for updates
Shortfin and longfin mako sharks were listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in August 2019. CITES Parties will soon be required to demonstrate that mako exports are sourced from legal, sustainable fisheries.
At their annual meeting in November, member governments of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), all of which are CITES Parties, will consider fishing restrictions to protect shortfin makos in the North Atlantic. Earlier this year, ICCAT scientists underscored previous warnings that this population is continuing to decline from serious overfishing, and reiterated their advice for a full ban on retention.
The Shark League coalition has appealed to fisheries and environment authorities in all ICCAT Parties to work together to ensure this advice is immediately heeded, in line with government obligations under both ICCAT and CITES. The ICCAT Parties that co-proposed the CITES listing for makos, including the EU, have a responsibility to lead in these efforts. So far, however, only one Party – Senegal – has stepped up to propose a mako ban.
Read the submission from the Ecology Action Centre, for the Shark League coalition, to ICCAT’s compliance review of how Parties are reporting on their shark catches and how they are implementing shark-specific recommendations.
We will be following up with individual Parties to highlight gaps in information and urge compliance with ICCAT’s binding measures for the conservation of sharks.
The lack of timely, detailed reporting of national shark catches and management is a significant hindrance to ICCAT’s conservation of shark populations.
As scientists highlight the continued decline of overfished Atlantic mako sharks, we are calling on all ICCAT Parties to meet their obligation to report on catch data, including discards, and the status of national observer programs by the end of July.
As ICCAT is due this year to evaluate the limited agreement in 2017 to narrow the conditions under which North Atlantic shortfin makos can be landed, it is essential that Parties also make available information about how these restrictions have been implemented nationally.
Read our letter here.