Analysis

Europe’s Shark & Ray Scientific Society Calls for Conservation Action

Lisbon was the venue of the 12th annual meeting of the European Elasmobranch Association (EEA), a founding member of the Shark Alliance.

The conference of shark and ray scientists took place from 14-16 November at the Oceanário aquarium, hosted by the Portuguese Association for the Study and Conservation of Elasmobranchs (APECE).

In addition to a diverse array of scientific presentations, participants took part in development and adoption of four Resolutions urging elasmobranch safeguards through the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), 2009 EU fishing limits, and the European Community Plan of Action (CPOA) for Sharks.

Shark Alliance core staff, Sonja Fordham and Sandrine Polti participated in the EEA meeting, providing updates on EU elasmobranch management progress and input with respect to the Resolutions.

In the first Resolution, the EEA called on Parties to ICCAT to adopt binding measures to prohibit fishermen from retaining exceptionally vulnerable bigeye threshers and exceptionally depleted porbeagle sharks, improve scientific observer coverage, reduce fishing mortality on shortfin mako sharks, and require that sharks be landed with their fins attached.

ICCAT’s annual meeting is being held in Morocco from November 17-24 and Commissioners will this year receive an unprecedented amount of advice on pelagic shark status and fisheries management. The EEA Resolution was hand-delivered to key EU delegates at the ICCAT meeting.

In its Resolution regarding the 2009 European Union (EU) fishing limits, the EEA urged EU Fisheries Ministers to adopt the European Commission’s science-based proposals to reduce total allowable catch limits for porbeagle sharks and spiny dogfish to zero and to prohibit retention of seriously depleted common skates, undulate rays, white skates, and angel sharks.

The Council of Fisheries Ministers meets in Brussels December 17-19 to decide the 2009 limits.

The EEA also weighed in on two key, upcoming meetings associated with the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS).

The Association urged countries to support proposals to list threatened migratory sharks on the CMS Appendices and to develop a binding Agreement to complement existing measures and provide a framework for developing conservation measures for threatened migratory shark species.

The CMS Conference of the Parties (CoP) will be held in Rome from 1-5 December. Parties will consider an EU proposal to add spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks to the CMS Appendices, as well as a Croatian proposal to list longfin and shortfin mako sharks.

Both listing proposals are aimed at CMS Appendix II which is reserved for migratory species that would benefit from regional cooperation on conservation action.

The second meeting to elaborate a new, global agreement for migratory sharks will begin immediately after the CMS CoP and runs until 8 December.

Finally, the EEA agreed to call on the European Commission and EU Fisheries and Environment Ministries to work together to promptly finalize and implement a shark CPOA that sets the stage for science-based catch limits, protection for endangered species, recovery plans for depleted populations, conservation of biodiversity and habitat, and an overall higher priority and more precautionary approach to elasmobranch conservation.

The CPOA is expected to be released for Council consideration in early 2009.

The Shark Alliance appreciated the opportunity to spend some time with Europe’s leading elasmobranch scientists at the Lisbon conference and congratulates the EEA on its success.

We look forward to continued collaboration toward achieving the goals set out in this year’s conservation Resolutions.