Shark Alliance comment on EU council fishery measures for sharks

Shark Alliance comment on EU council fishery measures for sharks
European companies have vessels fishing around the globe under third party agreements or private joint ventures. These vessels often fly ‘flags of convenience’ rather than those reflecting the vessels’ true base. © NOAA (National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration) / Greenpeace

Brussels: The Shark Alliance is pleased over new EU restrictions on shark fishing, yet still deeply concerned that fishing limits for these vulnerable species are not in line with scientific advice.  In addition, excessive limits allowed for other fish species is likely to increase the number of sharks killed incidentally, (known as “bycatch”).

“Overall, shark conservation in the EU is moving in the right direction – from virtually no restriction to modest safeguards for some species.  Such small steps, however, are not sufficient to stem the alarming declines in European shark populations,” said Sonja Fordham, Policy Director for the Shark Alliance.

“The Council’s continued approach of giving priority to fishing interests over clear scientific advice must change if shark populations are to recover.”

Early this morning, the Council annonced Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for porbeagle and spiny dogfish sharks for 2007, following consideration and proposals offered by the Commission.

The TAC for porbeagle was reduced to 174t from the 240t proposed by the Commission, This limit is the first of its kind, but still contrary to the ICES scientific advice that called for no fishing and minimization of incidental catch in other fisheries.

The Council adopted the Commissions proposal for 841t for spiny dogfish in the North Sea and – for the first time - set a limit for spiny dogfish of 2828t in other parts of the Northeast Atlantic. The new spiny dogfish limits (outside the North Sea) are however higher than the zero TAC recommended by ICES. The North Sea spiny dogfish TAC represents only a 20% reduction even though ICES advise no fishing.

Scientists have advised that the depletion of Northeast Atlantic spiny dogfish and porbeagle shark populations is so severe that fishing should no longer be allowed.   Ironically, concern for these species prompted the EU Member States to just days ago support Germany’s proposals to list both spiny dogfish and porbeagle under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

“By setting new limits on spiny dogfish and porbeagle catches, the Council has taken a step in the right direction toward addressing the depletion of these valuable species,” added Fordham.  “Meaningful fishing limits on European porbeagle and spiny dogfish populations, the world’s most depleted, are crucial for effective conservation.  Better stewardship at home is urgently needed to improve the chance of EU success at CITES.”