Spain protects more shark and ray species in the Mediteranean

Spain protects more shark and ray species in the Mediteranean

On January 21st 2012, Spain’s Official State Bulletin  published Order AAA/75/2012 announcing the inclusion of nine shark and ray species in  the List of Wild Species under Special Protection. Inclusion in the list delivers on commitments made by Spain as a party to the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean. The Shark Alliance welcomed this positive move for the protection of threatened shark and ray species in the Spanish Mediterranean waters.

Inclusion in the list prohibits the capture, injury, trade, import and export of these species, and requires periodic evaluations of their conservation status. The species included in the List of Wild Species under Special Protection in January 2012 are:

  • Sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus)
  • Smalltooth sand tiger shark (Odontaspis ferox)
  • Common skate (Dipturus batis), white skate (Rostroraja alba)
  • Spinny butterfly ray (Gymnura altavela)
  • Sawfishes (Pristis pristis and P. pectinata)
  • Angular roughshark (Oxynotus centrina)
  • Angel shark (Squatina squatina)
  • Sawback angel shark (Squatina aculeata)
  • Smoothback angel shark (Squatina oculata).

Àlex Bartolí, the Shark Alliance Policy Coordinator for Spain said “We welcome protection of these particularly vulnerable species. This measure should be accompanied by action to ensure the fisheries sector is made aware and given the necessary  information to guarantee that none of the species included in the List are caught (in a targeted or non-targeted manner), or landed, and to ensure that these species benefit from this protection and are able to recover.”

The Shark Alliance continues to encourage the Spanish Government to broaden the list of shark and ray species protected in Spain. In particular, the Shark Alliance calls upon the Government to prioritize the listing of guitarfishes and expand existing protection to the Atlantic waters at the next review of both the List of Wild Species under Special Protection and the Spanish Catalogue of Threatened Species, and to develop all necessary tools to ensure the adequate compliance with all adopted protection measures.

For more information or interviews:

Patricia Roy, Tel: +34 696 905 907,


In February 2011, several shark and ray species were included for the first time in the List of Wild Species under Special Protection: white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) of the Mediterranean, basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) of the Atlantic and Mediterranean, giant devil ray (Mobula mobular) of the Mediterranean, and all thresher (Alopias spp.) and hammerhead (Sphyrna spp. and Eusphyra spp.) shark species of the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

In October 2011, the Shark Alliance coalition delivered a proposal to the Spanish Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs calling for the inclusion of six new shark and ray species in the Spanish Catalogue of Threatened Species.

Read more information about the Shark Alliance proposal delivered to the Spanish Ministry in October 2011

Inclusion in the List of Wild Species under Special Protection prohibits the catch, harm, import or export such species, as well as the obligation to carry out periodical assessments of their conservation status. Inclusion in the Spanish Catalogue of Endangered Species carries, in addition, an obligation to develop recovery plans.

Four out of the six species included in the Shark Alliance proposal were listed in the List of Wild Species under Special Protection.  The two species of guitarfish (Rhinobatos rhinobatos and R. cemiculus) were unfortunately left apart.  According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, both these species of guitarfish are classified as Endangered in the Northeast Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea and globally.  In addition, protection measures adopted in January 2012 only apply to Spanish waters of the Mediterranean Sea, leaving particularly vulnerable populations from the Atlantic at risk, such as angel sharks from Canary Islands waters.

The Shark Alliance is a coalition of more than 100 conservation, scientific and recreational organisations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving shark conservation 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.