Oceana celebrates NEAFC improvements on shark management

Shark conservation measures adopted include requirement to land sharks with fins still attached

Press Release Date: November 14, 2014

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

Lack of agreement for key commercial stocks like mackerel, blue whiting or herring

Today, the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), responsible for managing fishery resources in the international waters of that region, has finished its week-long annual meeting in London. Oceana, an NGO observer to NEAFC, strongly welcomes the measures adopted for shark management in the regulatory area, but regrets the lack of agreement on the exploitation of major commercial species such as mackerel and herring, and vulnerable species like the orange roughy.

“Many of the recommendations adopted by NEAFC for sharks, such as the eradication of finning and the protection of threatened porbeagles, set a positive precedent for the fisheries management in the high seas of the Atlantic”, stated Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe.Other regional fisheries organisations with responsibility for these species should follow their example and put these long-awaited measures into place without delay. Just a few days ago, Oceana and Cepesca, the representatives of the largest shark fishing fleet in the EU, called for a strict ban on shark finning within ICCAT.”

Several important measures to improve shark management have been adopted this year in NEAFC: the reduction of shark by-catch, the collection of shark data, and a strict prohibition on shark finning that will require all vessels to land sharks with their fins still attached. Furthermore, NEAFC has extended existing prohibitions on directed fisheries for three vulnerable shark species: porbeagle, spurdog and basking shark.

In order to protect vulnerable coral and sponge communities from the impact of bottom gears, NEAFC has agreed to prohibit bottom fishing in six new areas of the Rockall and Hatton basin and banks, where these vulnerable habitats are known to occur. Oceana regrets that three other areas, for which scientists advised ending bottom trawling, were not included in the plan: the southern part of the mid-Atlantic ridge, a small area of the Hatton Bank, and the Josephine Seamount.

Contracting Parties were unfortunately unable to come to an agreement on catch limits and/or quota allocation for the main commercial species: mackerel, herring, blue whiting and red fish, and so these species remain unmanaged. For deep-sea species, such as the vulnerable orange roughy, the situation is the same. Contracting Parties were only able to achieve a consensus on management measures for haddock, for which current measures to protect juveniles will be rolled over, and two grenadier species, for which catch limits were set. Further discussions are expected to take place during the coming weeks in order to try to find a last-minute agreement.