Campaign to save porbeagle shark

Sharks are exceptionally vulnerable to overfishing and very slow to recover once depleted. © Greenpeace

The following letter was published in The Independent on 07 April 2007:

Campaign to save porbeagle shark

Sir: Few sharks are more imperilled than the porbeagle ("Shark attack", 5 April), but governments have a chance to turn the tide and save this key ocean predator, if they act now.

First, France should immediately end its targeted porbeagle fishery, the only one left in Europe, which is due to start within weeks. This critically endangered shark population already needs many decades to recover; intense, intentional hunting is simply no longer consistent with the species' survival.

Second, all member states should actively promote the European Union's proposal to establish trade restrictions on the porbeagle shark's prized meat and fins under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) up to and throughout the June conference of the Cites parties at The Hague. The proposal lacks support from France as well as Spain, and faces stiff opposition from countries in Asia, the core of shark-fin demand.

Without EU leadership, the prospects are poor, not just for porbeagles, but for the ocean ecosystems they sustain.