Overfishing, including through finning and bycatch, is taking a serious toll on shark populations - threats that will continue if shark fishing remains largely unmanaged in the world’s ocean.
In November, Parties of the International Commission for Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)* have the opportunity and the scientific basis to take positive steps towards effective shark management in the Atlantic.
Let’s start with the good news: Fisheries around the world are catching far fewer sharks than they used to.
Shark catches are down more than 20 percent from their peak in 2003. That year fishing fleets around the world netted 900,000 metric tons of sharks.
Sharks and related species such as rays and skates—collectively known as chondrichthyans—have been overfished for so long that at least 25 percent of the 1,000-plus known species are threatened with extinction.
Fishing minister George Eustice promises to argue the case for precautionary catch limits for overfished species.
The UK government has pledged to fight the unlimited fishing that leads to millions of sharks being killed by EU boats in the Atlantic every year.
Numerous species once widely fished by the EU, such as the porbeagle shark, have already been driven to near extinction in the Atlantic. But other species, like the blue shark, continue to be caught in huge numbers by EU boats because there are no limits on their exploitation.