The Shark League is tackling one of the world’s most pressing shark conservation crises: the dangerous decline of Atlantic shortfin makos.

ICCAT fishery managers have finally agreed that, in 2022 and 2023, all retention of North Atlantic shortfin makos will be prohibited. However, it is crystal clear from the latest ICCAT negotiations that the EU remains focused on reviving exploitation as soon as possible. To prevent shenanigans and backsliding in 2024, we need even more countries and voices at the table fighting back to rebuild the population.

Mako Champions Map

Key for Map

  • Where we need your help
  • Non ICCAT Party

Is your country missing from the map? You can help change that!

  • NGO representatives, scientists, and concerned citizens: Urge officials from your government’s fisheries and environment agencies to actively and publicly support science-based ICCAT measures for makos, as proposed by Senegal, Canada, and others. Those in the EU can join our Rally for Makos and ask their Fisheries and Environment Ministers to help shift the EU’s position. If you’re a scuba diver, join #Divers4Makos around the world. Or get in touch with us to see how else you could help.
  • Government officials from fisheries agencies: Let us know if your country supports science-based ICCAT limits for makos, and what your government will do to help ensure they get adopted this year. Send us a message to get on the map!
  • Government officials from environment agencies: Remind your fisheries counterparts of your country’s CITES obligations for preventing unsustainable mako trade, and encourage them to declare full support for the catch limits advised by ICCAT scientists. Get in touch for more info.

The Champions & Obstacles

The Champions

At the ICCAT 2019 annual meeting, Senegal and Canada led an initiative to establish the science-based shortfin mako limits advised by scientists.

Their proposal was co-sponsored by the Gambia, Gabon, Panama, Liberia, Guatemala, Angola, El Salvador, and Egypt.

The joint, science-based mako proposal was supported at the 2019 ICCAT annual meeting through floor statements by Norway, Guinea Bissau, Uruguay, Japan, China, and Taiwan.

During the online ICCAT process in 2020, the proposal was in addition co-sponsored by the UK (as a newly independent ICCAT party) and Taiwan for the first time.

As discussions continue into 2021, Sierra Leone has formally added its support.

The Obstacles

The joint, science-based mako proposal has been opposed since 2019 by the European Union (EU), and the United States (US). These Parties have been pushing exceedingly complex counter-proposals that fall far short of scientific advice, allowing hundreds of tons of makos to be landed.

The US proposal even permits the continued killing of makos that make it to the boat alive.

The Wild Cards

Each and every ICCAT Party, regardless of its mako landings, is important for securing an ICCAT agreement stringent enough to save makos.

Check the Mako Champions Map above to see if your country is yet to announce a position on the science-based ICCAT mako limits proposed by Canada, Senegal, and others.


An Urgent Problem

The inherently vulnerable, ecologically vital, and economically valuable shortfin mako is classified by IUCN as Endangered and listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). These highly migratory sharks are fished by many countries for meat, fins and sport, and are in dire need of international catch limits. For three years running, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has failed to act on clear and urgent scientific advice to ban retention of seriously overfished North Atlantic shortfin makos. The continuation of intense and practically unlimited fishing on this slow growing, declining population represents a conservation emergency that will already take decades to repair. Atlantic fishing countries must act now to prevent an even greater disaster.

The Remedy

ICCAT can adopt, either by consensus or vote, the advice its scientists have given for preventing the collapse of North Atlantic shortfin makos: completely prohibit retention and work to minimize post-release mortality. ICCAT scientists also advise establishing a 2001t shortfin mako catch limit for the South Atlantic to prevent a similar crisis there. With intersessional negotiations on mako policy cancelled, the next opportunity to agree this course of action is through annual negotiations taking place virtually over the coming months.

In the meantime, CITES Parties (including all ICCAT Parties) are required to demonstrate that mako exports and landings from the high seas are sourced from legal, sustainable fisheries.


Funded by the Global Partnership for Sharks and Rays