Over the past week or so some critical discussions about shark conservation have been taking place in Portugal and Panama. ICCAT and CITES both had important proposals for sharks on the agenda and so far, it has been a week filled with hope.
ICCAT News: First International Mako Shark Quota Adopted
After success for Blues in 2019 and Mako Sharks in the north Atlantic last year, this year the focus switched to the South Atlantic. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) agreed the world’s first population-wide fishing quota for highly vulnerable shortfin mako sharks. ICCAT set a South Atlantic catch limit (to cover landings as well as mortality from discarding) within the level recommended by scientists in 2019 and made allocations to individual fishing Parties that are calculated to cut their landings of the Endangered species by 40-60%.
“At long last, ICCAT has ended the free-for-all that was South Atlantic mako fishing,” said Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for Shark Trust. “Although more lenient than a ban, the new mako landing limits are well placed to achieve a substantial reduction in fishing pressure on the South Atlantic population. We thank the UK and EU for prompting these negotiations and seeing them through to a meaningful result on which we must continuously and ambitiously build.”
CITES News: Sharks step into the Spotlight
Exciting news from the first week of the CITES conference of Parties where the shark proposals have stepped into the spotlight!
First up was the proposal to list more than 50 requiem sharks including Sandbar Sharks, Caribbean Reef Sharks and Tiger Sharks. This proposal that was never going to go unopposed given it included Blue Sharks as a look-alike species: a lucrative element of high seas longline fisheries. Following much debate, with proposed amendments overturned, the vote supported the listing on Appendix II of CITES – a decision to be ‘signed-off’ at the plenary session later this week.
Further proposals for small hammerheads and freshwater stingrays met less opposition, passing with consensus, and guitarfishes by a convincing margin.
Huge congratulations to all NGOs and individuals who support #CITES4Sharks and who worked so hard to get these proposals on the table at both CITES and ICCAT. We look forward to seeing these CITES proposals formally adopted in plenary later this week!
Watch out for more news early next week!
Header image: Jacob Brunetti
The Big Shark Pledge: Shark Trust’s new campaign kicks off with a call for support
With the ink still drying on last week’s landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO this week launches its biggest-ever concerted campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.
The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious set of campaign actions. Working to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. The pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.
Many of our best known and much-loved sharks make their home on the high seas. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.
The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.
“While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of conservation, Ali Hood. “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for Blues and makos.”
There is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just last week, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.
This will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery.
Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox says of the Big Shark Pledge “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.”
Fourth Element X Sea Shepherd
This year on Black Friday, fourth element announced their new partnership with Sea Shepherd, encouraging people to move away from mindless purchasing and to opt-in to supporting something powerful.
For 40 years Sea Shepherd, a leading non-profit organisation, has been patrolling the high seas with the sole mission to protect and conserve the world’s oceans and marine wildlife. They work to defend all marine wildlife, from whales and dolphins, to sharks and rays, to fish and krill, without exception.
Inspired by Sea Shepherd’s mission, fourth element have created a collection of fourth element X Sea Shepherd limited edition products for ocean lovers and protectors, with 15% of every sale going to the Sea Shepherd fund to help continue to drive conservation efforts globally.
“Working with Sea Shepherd gives fourth element the opportunity to join forces with one of the largest active conservation organisations in the world to try to catalyse change in people’s attitudes and behaviour. Fourth Element’s products are designed, developed and packaged with the intention of minimising our impact on the ocean environment, and with this partnership, we will be supporting the work of Sea Shepherd, in particular in their work on dealing with the twin threats of Ghost fishing nets and plastic pollution.”
Jim Standing fourth element co-founder
Read fourth element’s Sea Shepherd Opinion Piece HERE
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