Press Release

Shark Alliance Welcomes Spanish Protections for Threatened Sharks

About

The Shark Alliance is welcoming Spain's new ban on fishing for 11 species of hammerhead and thresher sharks, most of which are classified as threatened.  The landmark legislation, published today in the State Official Bulletin, is the result of consensus reached by conservationists, fishermen, and the Spanish Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs in June 2009.  The government initially proposed ending only the minimal targeted, longline fishing for hammerheads and threshers, but the Shark Alliance and its partners successfully argued for more sweeping and meaningful rules.  Spain is the first EU Member State to limit catch of these species.

“The Shark Alliance applauds the Spanish government for acting to protect these exceptionally vulnerable shark species,” said Sandrine Polti, Shark Alliance Policy Advisor. “We are particularly pleased that the Ministry has agreed with our recommendations to prohibit all retention and sale of hammerhead and thresher sharks and to extend this rule to all Spanish fisheries,” Polti continued.

Spain-based Ecologistas en Acción, SUBMON and CRAM Foundation are among the Shark Alliance's 75 conservation, scientific and recreational organisation members.  The coalition was formed in 2006 to improve EU shark fishing policies.

“We are hopeful that Spain's new hammerhead and thresher protections represent first steps toward comprehensive shark fisheries management and signal the fishing power's interest in leading rather than impeding effective shark conservation,” said Samuel Martín-Sosa Rodríguez, Ecologistas en Acción International Coordinator who led Shark Alliance efforts to reach consensus on the new rules.

Other Shark Alliance recommendations for shark conservation, however, have gone unheeded.  In particular, Spain did not extend new protections to the porbeagle shark, a close relative of the great white that is Critically Endangered and yet still targeted off Europe, contrary to scientific advice.  Spain has the second largest share (30%) of the EU limit on porbeagle catch. Spain also rejected the coalition's calls to protect other Endangered species, such as Mediterranean guitarfish and giant devil rays, and has yet to limit catches of the shark species targeted by Spanish fishermen: mako and blue sharks. 

“We will continue to encourage Spain to take additional groundbreaking yet urgently needed actions to safeguard vulnerable shark populations as well as the ecosystems and fisheries they support,” said Polti.

Contact:

Mona Samari + 44 (0) 7515 828 939
Email: mona@communicationsinc.co.uk

Notes to editors:

The Shark Alliance was initiated and is coordinated by the Pew Environment Group, the conservation arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-government organisation that is working to end overfishing in the world's oceans.

The new prohibitions cover three species of thresher shark and eight species of hammerheads.  They ban retention, landing and sale, requiring that every specimen caught be released back into the sea, alive or dead.

The Shark Alliance is represented in Spain by CRAM Foundation, Ecologistas en Acción, Kenna Eco Diving, Oceania Diving World, and SUBMON.  Representatives from these groups, in collaboration with Shark Alliance core staff, Greenpeace, and WWF-Spain, contributed to the public consultation process on the draft legislation by submitting joint comments and recommendations to the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs. 

In early June, SUBMON released a report titled, Spain a driving force in shark fishing around the world
Recommendations available in English (PDF) / Full report in Español (PDF) 

A 2009 IUCN Report on the conservation status of pelagic shark and ray species reveals that Spain takes more oceanic sharks than any other country and is fourth in the world for overall catch of sharks and rays.

The Conservation Status of Pelagic Sharks and Rays, IUCN Shark Specialist Group Pelagic Shark Red List Workshop: Summary (PDF) / Full report (PDF)