Quantcast

Fisheries Threaten Endangered Shark Species

Oceana

On Nov. 15, Oceana released a report finding that less than 1 percent of the reported highly migratory sharks caught in the Atlantic Ocean are protected from overfishing by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).  The ICCAT's 22nd regular meeting is currently underway in Istanbul, Turkey. According to the new report, 75 percent of the highly migratory shark species being caught in ICCAT fisheries are classified as threatened in parts of the Atlantic by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“Protecting the oceans top predators is not a luxury, but a necessity,” said Elizabeth Griffin Wilson, senior manager of marine wildlife at Oceana. “While some progress has been made towards shark management, the vast majority of sharks caught in the Atlantic remain unprotected by ICCAT. The fishing countries of the Atlantic can no longer ignore that shark populations are being decimated by ICCAT fisheries.”

Most shark species in the Atlantic are vulnerable to overfishing because of their exceptionally low reproductive rates. In fact, the IUCN considers porbeagle sharks critically endangered in the Northeast Atlantic and a recent scientific report found that silky sharks are the most vulnerable to overfishing by longliners in the Atlantic. Other unmanaged shark species in the Atlantic include shortfin mako and blue sharks, which are the two species most frequently reported to be caught in ICCAT waters.

Currently, ICCAT only has protections in place for bigeye thresher, hammerhead and oceanic whitetip sharks. Oceana is calling on ICCAT, which is composed of 48 countries that fish in the Atlantic, to adopt the following actions to protect sharks:

  • prohibit the retention of endangered or particularly vulnerable species, including porbeagle and silky sharks

  • establish science-based precautionary catch limits for blue and shortfin mako sharks

  • require reporting of catch data as a prerequisite for landing a particular shark species

  • improve the current ICCAT finning measure by requiring that sharks be landed with their fins wholly or partially attached in a natural manner.

"The capture of sharks as both bycatch and targeted species by ICCAT fisheries is having detrimental impacts on our oceans top predators,” said Griffin Wilson. “It is time to stop putting short-term financial interests before the long-term health of our oceans.”

Shockingly, 50 percent of ICCAT fishing countries did not report any shark catches in 2009, the most recent year for which data is available. Misreporting of shark catch data and confusion over reporting requirements are widespread issues at ICCAT and limit the ability to adequately assess the impact of fisheries on shark species.

Earlier this month, U.S. Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Mark Begich (D-AK), showed their support for U.S. action to protect sharks at ICCAT by sending a letter to Dr. Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Oceana is also urging ICCAT to address the overfishing of Mediterranean swordfish and the bycatch of numerous vulnerable species, including sea turtles, marine mammals and sea birds, that are being caught in these fisheries.

For more information about ICCAT, sharks and swordfish, and for downloadable images, click here.

For more information, click here.

--------

Oceana is the largest international organization working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana seeks to make our oceans as rich, healthy and abundant as they once were.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

skaman306 / Moment / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Radish (Raphanus sativus) is a cruciferous vegetable that originated in Asia and Europe (1Trusted Source).

Read More Show Less
Tinnakorn Jorruang / iStock / Getty Images

By Dan Nosowitz

The budding research on cannabidiol, or CBD, attracts a great deal of interest in the agricultural field.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Oksana Khodakovskaia / iStock / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a tree native to China that's prized for its sweet, citrus-like fruit.

Read More Show Less

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new numbers that show vaping-related lung illnesses are continuing to grow across the country, as the number of fatalities has climbed to 33 and hospitalizations have reached 1,479 cases, according to a CDC update.

Read More Show Less
During the summer, the Arctic tundra is usually a thriving habitat for mammals such as the Arctic fox. Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Reports of extreme snowfall in the Arctic might seem encouraging, given that the region is rapidly warming due to human-driven climate change. According to a new study, however, the snow could actually pose a major threat to the normal reproductive cycles of Arctic wildlife.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Vegan rice and garbanzo beans meals. Ella Olsson / Pexels

By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)

One common concern about vegan diets is whether they provide your body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs.

Many claim that a whole-food, plant-based diet easily meets all the daily nutrient requirements.

Read More Show Less
A fracking well looms over a residential area of Liberty, Colorado on Aug. 19. WildEarth Guardians / Flickr

A new multiyear study found that people living or working within 2,000 feet, or nearly half a mile, of a hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drill site may be at a heightened risk of exposure to benzene and other toxic chemicals, according to research released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)

Read More Show Less
Pope Francis flanked by representatives of the Amazon Rainforest's ethnic groups and catholic prelates march in procession during the opening of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region at The Vatican on Oct. 07 in Vatican City, Vatican. Alessandra Benedetti / Corbis News / Getty Images

By Vincent J. Miller

The Catholic Church "hears the cry" of the Amazon and its peoples. That's the message Pope Francis hopes to send at the Synod of the Amazon, a three-week meeting at the Vatican that ends Oct. 27.

Read More Show Less