French Fishery Threatens Critically Endangered Sharks

French Fishery Threatens Critically Endangered Sharks

Paris — In the run-up to the EU fishing quota negotiations, BLOOM Association is calling on the French government to give full support to the protection of the porbeagle shark, a close relative of the great white and mako.  France is home to Europe’s only remaining targeted porbeagle fishery. The population is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Critically Endangered.  Scientists and the European Commission have recommended ending all fishing of porbeagle and even to stop landing the sharks that are caught incidentally as “bycatch,” as these have high survival chances if released right away.

“It’s an outrage that France, the land of Descartes, of full faith in Reason, be the last country in Europe to target an animal in critical danger of extinction” said Claire Nouvian, President and founder of the Paris-based non-profit organization BLOOM.  “There is no justification for these backwards practices. It’s as if we went out to kill the last gorillas. It is now crucial that France end this irresponsible stance and secure a brighter future for the porbeagle sharks.” 

Porbeagle meat is among the most prized of all shark meat and particularly valuable in Europe.  The large fins of porbeagles are also used in “shark fin soup”, an Asian delicacy.

In 2008 and 2009, France was allotted more than half of the EU total allowable catch (TAC) for porbeagle.  Last December, the European Commission proposed and many Member States supported setting the porbeagle TAC at zero, but France used its position as EU President to push through a reduction of only 25%.

“Earlier this year, French President Sarkozy concluded the Grenelle de la Mer by promising to systematically apply scientific advice from now on. The Council of Fisheries Ministers will set 2010 fishing quotas in Brussels on December 14th and 15th,” added Claire Nouvian, “The recovery of the European porbeagle population now depends on the French government following the line set forth by President Sarkozy and agreeing to a zero catch limit for this critically endangered species.”

For more information or media interviews, please contact:

Claire Nouvian +33 (0)6 13 40 50 43

Notes to Editors:

BLOOM is a non-profit organization solely dedicated to marine conservation and has registered charity statuses in France and Hong Kong where it focuses on shark research and conservation. Visit

BLOOM is a member of the Shark Alliance, a coalition of 76 conservation, scientific, and recreational organizations dedicated to improving shark policies.

The International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES), which provides the scientific advice for the European fishery management process, has recommended prohibiting the landing of porbeagle shark.  

The EU Council of Fisheries Ministers meets December 14 and 15 to decide 2010 EU fishing limits.

The EU 2009 porbeagle catch limit was set at 436 tonnes, a level that is too high to rebuild the population.  Even under a zero TAC, recovery of the population is expected to take decades.

Porbeagle sharks are exceptionally vulnerable to overfishing and long lasting depletion due to their slow growth, late maturity, and small litters. Females do not reproduce until their teen years and give birth to only about four pups after an 8-9 month pregnancy.

Like most sharks, porbeagles are top predators and therefore critical to maintaining ocean ecosystem balance.