The European Union should lead shark conservation and management in ICCAT

Spain, the country with the most shark catches in Europe, has already adopted legislation for its fleet prohibiting the catch of threatened species

Press Release Date: April 22, 2010

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: | tel.: Marta Madina

Oceana, the international marine conservation organization, is calling on the European Union to present effective proposals to regulate sharks that are caught in the Atlantic Ocean during the upcoming meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) in Recife, Brazil, 6-15 November.

Regarding the innovative shark proposals the European Union presented in last year’s ICCAT meeting, and from which the EU now seems to be taking a step back, Xavier Pastor, executive director for Oceana states: “The European Union has the responsibility to follow through with their stance on promoting shark conservation. Not doing so would be taking a step backwards and would go against the European Plan of Action for Sharks and the philosophy of protecting and managing these vulnerable animals.”

Notably, Spain, the main European country involved in shark fisheries, supports strong measures to regulate these species. On 5 October, this country enacted a total prohibition on the fishing and commercialization of thresher sharks and hammerhead sharks for its fleet in the entire world. Now Spain wants this regulation, which is the result of negotiations with the fishery sector and ecological organizations like Oceana, to be extended to all ICCAT contracting parties.

The European Union put forth this very same regulation for thresher and hammerhead sharks last year in ICCAT, but in the end it was not agreed by all contracting parties.” continues Pastor. As a result, the Spanish government took responsibility for its fisheries and established this regulation on a national level. Now we want the EU to propose it again in ICCAT. If not, it will be putting its own fishing fleet, which itself supports this initiative, at a disadvantage against other ICCAT fleets that will keep fishing and commercializing these species.”

Oceana recalls another proposal promoted by the EU last year in ICCAT which dealt with catch and effort limits for blue sharks and shortfin mako sharks, the two species most caught in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the organization, the EU has the obligation to follow up with this proposal as well, which is also supported by Spain. Spain has committed to establishing national legislation on the sustainable exploitation of these species.