Ten species – including hammerheads, tope, and shortfin mako – will now be strictly protected under the Barcelona Convention
The EU has finally voted in favour of strictly protecting ten threatened species of sharks and rays in the Mediterranean Sea, under the Barcelona Convention.
These species, including hammerheads, tope, and shortfin mako, have declined dramatically in numbers – some by as much as 99% during the last century – while others have vanished from parts of the Mediterranean where they were once common. The delayed decision of the EU was the final step needed to formalise their protection, to which the remaining countries within the convention had agreed in February.
“Finally, after repeated delays on the part of the European Commission, these vulnerable sharks and rays have been granted the legal protection that they urgently require” stated Ricardo Aguilar, Director of Research at Oceana Europe.
“The next challenge is to identify exactly where these species still occur in the Mediterranean. In order to effectively protect them from fishing pressure and habitat degradation, we need to determine where they are, and the precise nature of the threats they face.”
The ten species will now be listed under Annex II of the Barcelona Convention, which requires Mediterranean countries to undertake maximum, cooperative efforts for their protection and recovery, including controlling or prohibiting their capture and sale, prohibiting damage to their habitat, and adopting measures for their conservation and recovery. They join other highly threatened shark species that are already protected under the same annex, such as great white sharks, basking sharks, and angel sharks.
“The decision to protect these sharks and rays – including four species considered Critically Endangered – is particularly significant because they are all threatened by overfishing,” noted Dr. Allison Perry, marine wildlife scientist with Oceana Europe.
“Oceana has worked very hard in support of this protection, which recognises that fished species deserve the same conservation measures as other threatened wildlife.”