Germany pivotal to future of European sharks

Shark science meeting serves as springboard for conservation agenda

Germany pivotal to future of European sharks

Hamburg: This weekend’s meeting of Europe’s top shark scientists in Hamburg at the European Elasmobranch Association’s (EEA) 10th Annual Science Conference provides the ideal springboard for the German government  to demonstrate its commitment to protecting imperiled shark populations in EU waters and around the world, said the Shark Alliance, a coalition of non-governmental organizations dedicated to the science-based conservation of sharks, today.

With Germany’s EU Presidency imminent and its proposals to restrict shark trade up for EU consideration in December, Germany is well poised to answer calls from the European Parliament, conservationists and scientists to champion the tightening of the lenient EU ban on shark finning and to promote the development of comprehensive plans for rebuilding and conserving shark populations.

“Scientists’ warnings about dangerous shark depletion are increasing in intensity,” said Boris Frentzel-Beyme, president of both the EEA and the German Elasmobranch Association. “We urge German officials to inspire this conference with a commitment to lead Europe in science-based, precautionary management of sharks, skates and rays.”

Sharks and their relatives are especially vulnerable to overfishing because they generally grow slowly, mature late and have few young.  One third of Europe’s shark and ray populations are considered threatened by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).  European spiny dogfish and porbeagle shark populations have been Red-Listed as Critically Endangered based on steep declines from overfishing. Germany has proposed that these two species be regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). 

In addition, the EU’s ban on the wasteful practice of shark finning is fraught with loopholes, few Member States restrict shark fishing and there is no EU plan for conserving sharks.

"With their CITES proposals, Germany has shown tremendous leadership in international shark conservation,” said Sonja Fordham, Policy Director for the Shark Alliance. “We now call on Germany to assume a similar stance for sharks closer to home, by leading the EU toward a new era of effective safeguards for these exceptionally vulnerable species.”