The Shark Alliance is heralding today’s ground-breaking agreement by more than 80 governments to list mako, spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks under the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). The action is aimed at sparking the international collaboration needed to conserve populations of these wide-ranging, globally threatened sharks.
Proposals to list all the world’s populations of spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks were developed by Belgium and advanced by the European Union (EU); Croatia proposed listing of both species of mako sharks. New Zealand, Chile and Argentina initially opposed the shark proposals. After much discussion of available information, Parties agreed to list all populations of makos and porbeagles, but only Northern hemisphere populations of spiny dogfish. Most species listed under CMS, such as bats, flamingos and dolphins, as well as basking, great white and whale sharks, are not commercially important like the shark species listed today.
“Listing commercially valuable makos, spiny dogfish and porbeagles under the Convention on Migratory Species marks an important step toward expanding the tools we use to ensure shark fishing is sustainable,” said Sonja Fordham, Policy Director for the Shark Alliance. “Most sharks grow slowly, give birth to live young after lengthy pregnancies, and play important roles in marine ecosystems. It is high time they were viewed not only as commodities but also as wildlife -- deserving of attention through wildlife treaties.”
The shark species at issue are exposed to intense fishing pressure as they migrate across national boundaries and yet are not subject to international catch limits. Shortfin mako, spiny dogfish and porbeagles are among the sharks most highly prized in Europe for their meat; their fins are exported to Asia for shark fin soup. Some populations have been seriously overfished, particularly in the North Atlantic. The EU loosely regulates fishing for spiny dogfish and porbeagle and is considering dramatic quota cuts; there are no EU limits on mako shark catch.
The shark listings come under CMS Appendix II based on “unfavorable” conservation status and potential to benefit from international cooperation. Appendix II listings can elevate management priority and promote collaborative conservation initiatives throughout species’ ranges.
“We urge all countries to fulfill the intent of the listings by prioritizing the management of these imperiled shark species and actively pursuing bilateral and regional conservation agreements that include science-based limits on fishing,” added Fordham.
Many CMS conference participants will stay on in Rome for a weekend meeting to develop a landmark CMS global conservation instrument for migratory sharks.
Mona Samari: Tel: +44 (0) 7515 828 939,