EU promotes global conservation action for two threatened shark species

Belgian proposals to list spiny dogfish and porbeagle under Convention on Migratory Species submitted by France on behalf of European Union

EU promotes global conservation action for two threatened shark species

Brussels — The Shark Alliance is applauding European Union (EU) Member States and the European Commission for advancing proposals late yesterday to list spiny dogfish and porbeagle - two commercially valuable sharks classified as Critically Endangered in European waters - under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). The proposals were developed by Belgium, co-sponsored by the Netherlands, and submitted by France, as current EU President. If adopted at the CMS Conference of the Parties in December, the listings would prompt efforts to secure focused, international cooperation on regional conservation initiatives.

"With these proposals, the EU assumes a leadership role in highlighting the plight of commercially valuable, migratory sharks and demonstrating the importance of using all available tools to conserve them," said Sonja Fordham, Policy Director for the Shark Alliance. "Most sharks grow slowly, mature late, give birth to live young after lengthy pregnancies, and play important roles in marine ecosystems.   The time has come to view them not just as commodities but also as wildlife."

Belgium's proposals received unanimous support from other EU Member States and the European Commission.  The CMS Scientific Council has reported that 35 species of sharks meet the criteria for listing under CMS.  Currently only basking, white and whale sharks are listed under CMS.

"Wildlife treaties such as CMS are important and appropriate avenues for developing shark conservation measures to complement and bolster traditional fisheries management actions," continued Fordham. "Lengthy migrations and depleted status make spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks particularly deserving of CMS attention.  While national and regional fisheries obligations remain, CMS can elevate the management priority of these sharks and promote consistent protective measures throughout their ranges.  Such action would fit well into a more holistic EU shark conservation strategy - one that recognizes the importance of international cooperation and employs a range of relevant tools.  We thank the EU Commission and EU Member States for advancing these landmark proposals and urge all CMS Parties to ensure their adoption later this year."

Notes to editors:

Spiny dogfish and porbeagles are among the most severely overfished sharks in European waters.  IUCN classifies Northeast Atlantic populations of these species as Critically Endangered.  Scientists advising EU fishery managers have repeatedly recommended that fisheries for these species cease.  

Last week, porbeagle and spiny dogfish were added to the List of Threatened and Declining Species by the OSPAR Commission for Protection of the Marine Environment of the Northeast Atlantic. 

In 2007, the EU proposed listing these same two species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, but the proposals were defeated.  EU 2009 quotas for spiny dogfish and porbeagle will be proposed by the European Commission and decided by EU Member States.