Shark Conservation Takes Center Stage at International Tuna Summit

Shark Conservation Takes Center Stage at International Tuna Summit

SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN — The Shark Alliance is congratulating government delegates at the second summit of international tuna fishery managers for agreeing on the need to take immediate action for sharks.   Currently, there are no international catch limits for sharks taken on the high seas. Most shark species taken by international tuna fleets are exceptionally slow growing and threatened with extinction under IUCN Red List criteria. The U.S. led efforts to secure agreement on key points.

“We are pleased that governments from around the world have at last clearly acknowledged the pressing need for shark conservation measures on the high seas,” said Sonja Fordham, Policy Director for the Shark Alliance.  “We underscore their agreement that improved enforcement of finning bans, protection for particularly depleted shark species, and concrete shark fishing controls in line with scientific advice and the precautionary approach deserve immediate attention.”

Specifically, delegates agreed to call on Regional Fishery Management Organizations, which set fishing limits for international waters of the high seas, to establish precautionary, science-based conservation and management measures for sharks, including, as appropriate:

  • Measures to improve the enforcement of existing finning bans;
  • Prohibitions on retention of particularly vulnerable or depleted shark species, based on advice from scientists and experts;
  • Concrete management measures in line with scientific advice with priority given to overfished populations;
  • Precautionary fishing controls on a provisional basis for shark species for which there is no scientific advice; and
  • Measures to improve the provision of data on sharks in all fisheries and by all gears.

“In order to stem the alarming declines in shark populations, this clear guidance must promptly be followed by concrete, enforceable limits on fishing in all the world’s oceans,” added Fordham.  “The Shark Alliance will work to ensure that these encouraging words will be translated into meaningful and beneficial action for these exceptionally vulnerable animals.”

Further information and media interviews:

Mona Samari, +44 (0) 7515 828 939


Notes to editors:

The Shark Alliance is a coalition of more than 70 conservation, scientific and recreational organisations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving EU fishing policies.

The Shark Alliance was initiated and is coordinated by the Pew Environment Group, the conservation arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-government organisation that is working to end overfishing in the world's oceans.

Last week, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) released a landmark report on the conservation status of all 64 known pelagic sharks and noted that half of such species taken in high seas tuna fisheries are threatened with extinction under IUCN Red List criteria.

International tuna fishery managers have been meeting all week in San Sebastian as part of the second joint tuna Regional Fishery Management Organization meeting.