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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

In November, the 51 ICCAT Parties (50 member countries plus the European Union) were 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.

Together with our Shark League partners, we urged ICCAT member countries to heed scientific advice and ban retention, transshipment, and landings of makos at the 25th Regular Meeting of the Commission, held in Morocco from 13-21 November, and used scuba divers' influence with governments to help get it done.

Whilst the measures for makos adopted by ICCAT Parties fell far short of the fishing limits recommended by scientists, they do represent a decent step to build on.

How You Can Help

Make Time for Makos

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

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

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