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Big Victory for Mediterranean Sharks and Rays

Oceana

By Michelle Cassidy

Hammerheads are one of ten species that are now protected. Photo ©Wikimedia Commons.

Sharks and rays in the Mediterranean have something to be happy about this week—10 species now have special protections under the Barcelona Convention.

These 10 species—including hammerheads and shortfin makos—have suffered significant population losses. Shark and ray numbers have declined and some species are nowhere to be seen in areas where they were once common.

Today’s decision allows the European Union to formalize protection for these important predators. It’s a step in the right direction for the EU, which recently delayed measures that would have limited overfishing in European waters.

“These vulnerable sharks and rays have been granted the legal protection that they urgently require,” said Ricardo Aguilar, director of Research at Oceana Europe.

Now that the legal protections are in place, the next step will depend on locating where the protected species remain in the Mediterranean, and implementing strict protection measures in those areas.

Sharks and rays are some of the oldest fish in the ocean—the oldest shark relative is estimated to be up to 450 million years old. And now some species have lost 99 percent of their population in just the last century. Overfishing is a huge threat to these living fossils, and if we want them to be around in the future, we have to act now.

Visit EcoWatch's BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.

 

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