Approaching 50 member groups
A further 10 organisations have swelled the Shark Alliance since our last newsletter, bringing our current membership to 49. Most recently we welcomed Slow Food International and the following groups from France, Italy and Spain: Ligue Roc, GRIS (Gruppo Ricercatori Italiani sugli Squali, razze e chimere); and CRAM (The Foundation for the Conservation and Rescue of Marine Animals).
Hope on the horizon in 2008
Describing it as “a solid blueprint for meaningful, corrective action,” the Shark Alliance welcomed the consultation document for a Community Plan of Action (CPOA) for Sharks released by the European Commission in December. Since then, the Shark Alliance has submitted comments on the document and engaged in policy debates on the proposed plan elements.
In February, Shark Alliance staff presented positions on the Commission’s proposals at a meeting of the Advisory Committee for Fisheries and Aquaculture (ACFA) in Brussels, a meeting of the Pelagic Regional Advisory Council in Amsterdam, and a shark conference hosted by the Spanish government and fishing industry in Madrid.
News Round-up from late last year
UN General Assembly calls for science-based measures to protect sharks
In December, as part of its annual fisheries resolution, the United Nations called on fishing nations and international fisheries organisations to urgently adopt science-based measures - such as limits on shark catch and fishing effort - and to take immediate and concerted action to improve implementation of existing shark measures.
The Resolution makes specific mention of shark finning - the wasteful practice of slicing off a shark’s valuable fins and discarding the body at sea - and encourages requirements that sharks be landed with their fins still attached to their bodies. Scientists have repeatedly recommended this "fins-attached” strategy as the best method for preventing finning and for collecting the species-specific shark catch information needed for population assessments.
Scientists call for action to conserve sharks
In November, shark and ray scientists at an annual conference in France pushed the number of signatories to a Shark Alliance Statement of Concerned Scientists to over 100. The Statement calls on EU Ministers and fisheries managers to heed scientific advice for fishing limits and develop an EU shark plan.
Scientists' statement of concern
Also in November, an IUCN (World Conservation Union) study revealed that the Mediterranean Sea has the world’s highest percentage (42%) of shark and ray populations assessed as threatened with extinction. More
EU 2008 catch limits too high to recover porbeagle and spurdog
In spite of the above calls for science-based measures, the EU Council’s decisions for 2008 catch limits for spurdog and porbeagle sharks - two species considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN - exceeded the scientific advice (for no fishing), to the point where it is questionable whether they restrict fishing at all.
The Shark Alliance was pleased, however, that spurdog take was restricted to bycatch and that porbeagle fishing at long last became limited. Porbeagles are still targeted off France and taken opportunistically by Spain and UK fishermen. More
Stinging critique of EU fisheries management
A December report from the European Court of Auditors offered a stinging critique of EU fisheries management programmes. "If this situation continues," said the auditors, "it will bring grave consequences not only for the natural resources, but also for the future of the fishing industry."
European Court of Auditors report
Last but not least, a big thanks to everyone who supported our hugely successful European Shark Week last October. Throughout the week our members across Europe held a variety of events - from film screenings and photo exhibitions to drawing competitions and aquarium sleep-overs. A total of more than 20,000 signatures were collected and presented to the European Commission at the beginning of November by a Shark Alliance delegation. More
Please mark your calendars! European Shark Week 2008 will take place from 11-19 October.
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