On behalf of the Pew Environment Group, the Humane Society International, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Greenpeace International and the Shark Alliance – a coalition of 64 NGOs working for the conservation of sharks - we appreciate this opportunity to comment on implementation of the International Plan of Action for Sharks. We share concerns expressed by Costa Rica, the United States, and Australia with regard to inadequate progress under this increasingly urgent initiative, and we thank these countries for their leadership.
Ten years since adoption of the Shark IPOA, most fishing nations have not completed national plans of action or imposed basic fishing limits for these particularly slow growing animals. Regional Plans of Action have not been developed, shark fisheries data remain inadequate, and most finning bans are too lenient.
Whereas CCAMLR and NEAFC have taken steps to discourage targeted shark fishing, NAFO’s thorny skate quota is the only concrete catch limit for a shark, ray or chimaera under the world’s RFMOs, and that limit now stands at more than twice the level advised by scientists. As demand for shark products grows in the absence of management, so does the number of shark and ray species classified by IUCN as Threatened with extinction.
The exceptional vulnerability of sharks and the important role they play as predators in marine ecosystems helped provide the impetus for the development of the Shark IPOA and yet the management priority assigned to sharks remains very low. We must dramatically change this situation if we are to have any hope for sustainable shark fishing.
To that end, we urge governments to mark the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Shark IPOA by recommitting to its directives and working immediately at the national and regional level to improve shark data collection, limit shark fishing, protect particularly vulnerable shark species, strengthen finning bans, and develop Plans of Action for long-term conservation.
Lastly, we take this opportunity to congratulate the European Commission on the completion of the Community Plan of Action for Sharks and urge all EU Member States to actively support its prompt implementation in line with scientific advice and the precautionary approach. We are hopeful that the EU Plan will succeed in greatly improving European shark policies and population status, and will encourage other countries to live up to the shark conservation pledges they made a decade ago.
Thank you, Mister Chairman.