Shark Catches Not Regulated Enough by ICCAT

Written by on November 27, 2013 in Policy & Ocean Law, Sharks
Shark fins drying on a sidewalk.

Shark fins drying on a sidewalk. Photo credit: nicwn via photopin cc.

A recent report from Oceana reveals that up to 24 countries may be illegally catching sharks in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) requires all shark catches to be reported and Oceana identified two categories of countries that may not have complied with these regulations. These categories include countries that did not report shark catches, yet still exported shark fins to Hong Kong, and countries that did not report shark catches, yet have ICCAT-authorized fishing vessels that are likely to catch sharks.

“Data reporting is the most basic requirement for responsible fisheries management – without knowing how many sharks are being caught, it is impossible to know what impact fisheries are having on these vulnerable animals,” explained Dr. Allison Perry, marine wildlife scientist with Oceana in Europe in a news release.

ICCAT is the inter-governmental organization responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species, including sharks, in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas. At the 2013 Annual ICCAT Meeting held earlier this month, in Cape Town, South Africa, the 47 Contracting Parties discussed management and conservation of these highly migratory species.

A statement about the 2013 annual meeting says “shark management and compliance performance were again high priorities for the Commission.” Despite Oceana’s findings, only three Contracting Parties were identified as having “some compliance deficiencies of serious concern.”

This could be because only eight of the 350 shark species caught in ICCATS management area have management measures. Several highly threatened species continue to be caught and sold and species like mako and blue sharks are fished without limits.

To solve these problems, Oceana is calling on ICCAT to fully examine non-compliance with shark data reporting requirements, to require all sharks to be landed with their fins still naturally attached, and to adopt management plans to protect porbeagles and makos.

Mako shark.

Mako shark. Photo credit: NOAA.

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Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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