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RFMOs: Fishing at high sea

Overfishing and Bycatch

Sharks and rays are among the most vulnerable animals in our ocean. Yet they remain a low priority for many fishery managers.

The Issue

Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) have the ability to set international fishing limits for shark and ray populations fished by numerous countries. But their actions for sharks and rays have been seriously inadequate, resulting in under-protected populations. We want to change that. 

RFMOs are international organizations formed by countries with fishing interests in a particular ocean area. Their actions offer the most direct solutions for preventing waste and overexploitation across the ranges of highly migratory species. 

Increased, sustained, and coordinated RFMO engagement by conservationists is vital to securing sound and consistent safeguards at regional, national and global levels.

RFMOs: Tuna catch
RFMOs: Mako shark

What We're Doing

Project AWARE and its conservation partners have formed the Shark League for the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Together we want to advance groundbreaking safeguards for sharks and rays at specific RFMOs.

We're working with Shark Advocates International, Shark Trust, and Ecology Action Centre to target three RFMOs - the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), and the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO).

We want to secure:

  • Science-based shark and ray catch limits;
  • Strict protections for endangered species; and

  • Strong, enforceable bans on shark finning.

ICCAT 2017

This November, the 51 ICCAT Parties (50 member countries plus the European Union) will be presented with new scientific advice on the dire status of the Atlantic shortfin mako shark and options to set strict conservation measures - including a ban on landing - for this exceptionally valuable and vulnerable species.

For ICCAT fisheries managers, both the warning signs and pathways for change are clear. ICCAT limits are needed to guard against overfishing of highly migratory makos. Major mako fishing countries would need to comply in implementing these, and ICCAT safeguards could inspire similar measures in other ocean basins.

Together with our Shark League partners, we’re working to urge ICCAT member countries to heed scientific advice and ban retention, transshipment, and landings of makos at ICCAT’s annual meeting in November. Scuba divers have influence with governments that could get help get it done.

How You Can Help

Add your voice. 

Project AWARE is mobilizing the dive community to help safeguard the Atlantic shortfin mako from overfishing before it's too late. Here's how you can help:

  • Watch our video message to ICCAT 2017 and share on your social media channels. Don't forget to hashtag #Divers4Makos.

ICCAT 2017 is make or break time for the shortfin mako. Help us ensure a sustainable future.

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