Oceana warns that one third of european shark and ray populations are threatened with extinction

The international marine conservation organization has sent reports analyzing the state of European elasmobranches to the Spanish Minister of Environment and the European Fisheries commissioner.

Press Release Date: January 12, 2008

Location: Madrid


Oceana Web | email: webadmin@oceana.org | tel.: 202.000.0000

Yesterday the second European Shark Week came to a close. This campaign, whose objective was to inform the public about the sharp decline in European shark and ray populations, and to encourage the European Union to implement a strong Plan of Action for Sharks, was celebrated throughout Europe with diverse activities, material giveaways and a petition to environment/fishery ministers showing support for shark conservation. 

Over 135 species of sharks and rays can be found in European waters, but one third of their populations are threatened with extinction, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Despite this, most EU shark and ray fisheries continue without regulation and the EU’s shark finning (the wasteful practice of cutting a shark’s fins and throwing the body back to sea) prohibition is one of the weakest in the world.  

To highlight this situation, Oceana has sent two new reports on sharks, rays and related species to the Spanish Environment Minister, Elena Espinosa, and the European Fisheries commissioner, Joe Borg. Both reports (access to The Beauty of the Beast and Guide to European Elasmobranches) are part of Oceana’s ongoing shark conservation campaign which began a few years ago.  

“The Spanish fleet holds a lot of weight in the European Union for shark fishing and trade. With the willingness that the Minister showed Oceana in the meeting with her, we’d like to see Spain become a driving force in shark conservation, not only to safeguard the future of these animals, but also to guarantee sustainable fisheries for the country’s own fleets, once these are adequately gauged,” explains Xavier Pastor, Executive Director for Oceana in Europe

The two reports were also distributed in the numerous Spanish aquariums and marine centres that participated in European Shark Week, from October 11-19. Various activities were carried out throughout the week to educate the public on the important role that sharks play in maintaining equilibrium within our oceans.

“This fall season brings us with various opportunities to advance in shark conservation,” states Rebecca Greenberg, shark campaigner with Oceana Europe. “In November and December decisions will be made on shark catches in the Atlantic Ocean and the annual quotas for some sharks and rays will be decided for European Union fishing fleets. Also, the long awaited European Plan of Action for Sharks is going to be published. We hope that fishery and conservation decision-makers don’t loose these valuable opportunities to ensure urgently needed conservation for these animals,” Greenberg concluded.