Press Release

Black Sea Sharks at Risk

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The Shark Alliance is calling on Romania and Bulgaria as a new members of the European Union to weigh in on a pressing marine conservation issue – the need for trade limits on an exceptionally vulnerable shark species found in the Black Sea. 

EU Member States are currently forming positions on Germany’s proposal to list spiny dogfish sharks, a global ocean species also found in the Black Sea, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and thereby limit international trade to sustainable levels.  Officially part of the EU starting January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania can influence this key decision by voicing support for the conservation proposals. 

"As a new members of the European Union, Bulgaria and Romania has an opportunity to improve the poor record of EU shark management starting with a remarkable species found close to home – the imperiled spiny dogfish,” said Sonja Fordham, Policy Director of the Shark Alliance.  “We urge Romanian and Bulgarian officials to join the debate and voice their support for Germany’s well substantiated proposal to limit trade in this imperiled shark species.”

Fished for their meat and liver oil for more than a century, spiny dogfish are now at serious risk in several regions of the globe. This once abundant shark is now included on the IUCN (World Conservation Union) Red List of Threatened Species due to serious overfishing from intense, poorly regulated fisheries. 

Black Sea spiny dogfish are thought to be the largest and most productive in the world, but are still among the slowest growing sharks on earth and therefore exceptionally susceptible to overfishing; the Black Sea population is considered Vulnerable by the IUCN.  The Northeast Atlantic population is in even worse shape, having suffered depletion of more than 90%.  Because CITES listing would not affect catches of dogfish from the Black or North Sea, regional management plans are also needed to stem serious population declines.

“CITES listing for spiny dogfish represents an essential first step towards global sustainability, but effective, regional recovery plans that include stringent catch limits are also urgently needed for most of the world’s populations,” added Fordham.  “Bulgaria and Romania has a chance to show real conservation leadership by supporting Germany’s proposal and working with neighboring countries on a Black Sea rebuilding program for this valuable yet vulnerable shark.”

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