Analysis

Facts presented by Shark Alliance and SUBMON in conjunction with release of Spanish shark

The findings of the TNS Demoscopia poll commissioned by the Shark Alliance, which was released on 03.06.09, states that although 96% of those polled said that they did not eat shark, 76.4% were not aware that "cazón" and "marrajo" come from sharks and nearly 33% said that they consumed these products.

The results of the poll were released in conjunction with a new report from SUBMON, titled Spain: A driving force in shark fishing around the world, that documents serious fishery problems including mislabeling sharks at market.

The Shark Alliance and SUBMON believe that as a top shark fishing nation, Spain has responsibility to evolve from an obstacle to a leader in shark conservation.

Specifically, among other things, SUBMON and the Shark Alliance are urging Spain to:

  • Limit shark catches to scientifically advised and/or precautionary levels;
  • Eliminate excess fleet capacity;
  • Prevent take of particularly vulnerable or endangered shark species;
  • Ensure accurate reporting and traceability of shark trade by species and product; an
  • Educate fishermen and sellers as to shark species identification and restrictions.

For more than a decade, Spain has been one of the top five world powers with respect to the fishing and marketing of sharks.  Spain's fishing fleets, employing various gears, span the globe, taking sharks as targeted and incidental catch.

Approximately 50% of the EU catch of "sharks" (all cartilaginous fishes: sharks, rays and chimaeras) is taken by Spain.

Spain ranks fourth in the world for catch of "sharks" (sharks, rays & chimaeras), reporting nearly 60,000 tonnes (t) taken in 2007.  Hundreds of Spanish vessels fish for sharks in oceans all over the world.

Spain is a leading player in the import and export of shark products, including shark fins to Asia (used in the Chinese delicacy, shark fin soup).  In 2005, Spain was second only to Taiwan in shark exports and ranked among China and South Korea for shark imports.

Spain is notorious for inaccurate and late reporting of shark catches.  In 2007, Spain reported 58,159t of shark landings to its national fisheries authorities, but only 46,187t of shark landings to the global authority (Food & Agricultural Organization/FAO).

Spain is one of only four EU countries to issue special permits that allow fishermen to remove shark fins at sea through a derogation of the EU ban on shark "finning" (slicing off a shark's fins and discarding the body at sea).  Although shark bodies must be retained under these permits, fin removal creates loopholes and enforcement challenges.  Spain has issued the largest number of these permits (164 in 2006), enough to allow nearly two-thirds of its longline fleet to derogate from the EU regulation that bans shark fin removal at sea.

Spanish vessels with these permits reported landing 1,613t of shark fins in 2007 - more than thirteen times the amount reported in 2006 for all Spanish vessels - while total shark product landings for these vessels remained stable (21,324t in 2006, 19,486t in 2007).

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