Open letter posted on EurActiv to Karmenu Vella: stop mako shark fishing before it’s too late!

Date: October 30, 2017


25 October 2017

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner

Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

European Commission

1049  Brussels


Dear Commissioner Vella:

We write regarding one of the world’s most vulnerable and valuable shark species – the shortfin mako, with hopes of enlisting your help to avert North Atlantic population collapse.

As head of the EU’s environment and fisheries agencies, you can appreciate the dual perception of sharks as wildlife and commodities. At this week’s Conference of Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), member governments are enthusiastically recommitting to global shark protections at the same time that Atlantic fishing nations grapple with recommended cuts in mako shark catches in preparation of the November meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

Makos have been listed on CMS Appendix II since 2008. Nearly a decade on, despite pledges by the EU and other CMS Parties to collaborate regionally toward conservation, mako population status has only deteriorated. ICCAT scientists recently found the status of the North Atlantic shortfin mako population particularly grim, advising a “complete prohibition of retention” as an immediate step to stop overfishing and begin a 20 or more year recovery.

As the top Atlantic mako fishing entity that still allows makos to be landed without limit, the EU bears great responsibility for this depletion. It is now up to the EU to secure the strict measures necessary to repair the damage. While the EU and ICCAT have failed to act on previous warnings for makos, they have prohibited retention of many other shark species.

It’s make or break time for mako sharks. Our organisations have collected many thousands of signatures from EU citizens demanding a mako ban, and we continue to work around the Atlantic to grow support for governments taking this critical and urgently needed action. We urge you to ensure that the EU, in line with its commitment to heed scientific advice, secures an immediate ICCAT prohibition on fishing these remarkable animals, before it’s too late.


Shark Advocates International is a project of The Ocean Foundation dedicated to securing science-based safeguards for sharks and rays.

Shark Trust is the UK’s leading conservation organization dedicated to making UK and EU policy gains for sharks and rays through advocacy.

Project AWARE represents a global constituency of 1.2 million scuba divers, along with an extensive network for communications and citizen action.

Ecology Action Centre is a leading Canadian conservation group and the only one consistently engaging in national and international shark policy.

These organisations form the Shark League for the Atlantic and Mediterranean:

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