Archive for June, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: No Limits to shark exploitation?

PLYMOUTH// The Shark Trust is launching its No Limits? campaign today in response to the crisis posed by unlimited and escalating shark fishing pressure. With no catch limits set for many shark species, landings have soared over the past decade, placing huge pressure on shark populations. The Trust’s No Limits? campaign highlights the urgent need to introduce science-based catch limits for Blue Sharks, Shortfin Mako, Tope, smoothhounds and catsharks – species accounting for over 97% of reported Atlantic shark landings.

Europe is a significant global shark fishing power with three EU Member States among the world’s top twenty shark fishing nations. The Shark Trust’s No Limits? campaign addresses the alarming impact of these unrestricted landings, which amount to hundreds of thousands of tonnes, representing over 6.5 million sharks from the Atlantic in 2012 alone. No Limits? appeals to the public to support the adoption of science-based catch limits by signing an online campaign petition urging governments to act before it’s too late, and today’s commercial shark species follow other previously abundant Atlantic shark stocks into collapse.

The EU fleet is responsible for around 40% of reported global shark landings, and 88% of that catch comes from Atlantic waters,” said Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust. “Reported landings of Blue Shark by the EU fleet have almost tripled since 2003, to approximately 100,000 tonnes in 2012, actual mortality will be far higher. With no catch limits in place, it is imperative that the countries responsible for these landings, and their management, stop uncontrolled shark fishing now.”

Overfishing has so severely reduced Porbeagle, Spiny Dogfish (Spurdog), Angelshark and Common Skate populations that they are now listed by the IUCN (1) as Critically Endangered in the Northeast Atlantic.

Experts agree that sharks and their relatives face a far higher risk of extinction than most other vertebrates. We now believe that a quarter of all sharks, skates and rays are threatened”, said Sarah Fowler, Shark Trust Trustee. “It’s hard to believe that European fishermen almost everywhere can catch as many of these shark species as they want, irrespective of fish size and age. Limiting shark catches contributes to the sustainable future of coastal communities, as well as sharks.

The EU has, in recent years, begun to address a legacy of over-exploitation, with the UK strongly championing the Community Plan of Action for Sharks (2009) and the adoption last year of the revised EU Shark Finning Regulation. The Shark Trust now calls on the UK government to take a stand within the EU for the adoption of science-based catch limits for all unmanaged species.
Ali Hood concluded, “No Limits? is a campaign not only for the UK but for all the citizens of Europe; the Shark Trust believes that, when the public realise the sheer scale of shark mortality, they will want to add their voice – No Limits? No Future!


Editors’ Notes:

The Shark Trust, established in 1997, is the UK registered charity that works to advance the worldwide conservation of sharks through science, education, influence and action. Our vision is a world where sharks thrive within a globally healthy marine ecosystem. The Trust is an effective and well respected advocate for sustainable shark management and the protection of threatened species, working through cross-sectoral collaboration with governments, industry and other stakeholder groups.

The No Limits? campaign  calls on national governments, the European Commission and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (high seas regulators) to recognise that management is urgently required for all commercially exploited shark species and to introduce and enforce science-based catch limits without delay.

No Limits? statistics:

  • Spain, France and Portugal are listed in the top 20 global shark fishing nations (at last ranking UK 21st).
  • Eight European countries are responsible for 99% of EU shark landings. (Spain, France, Portugal, UK, Ireland, Italy, Belgium and Greece). UK accounts for 8% of total EU reported shark landings.
  • From 2000-2012, over 1,000,000 tonnes of sharks were reported landed by the EU fleet worldwide. 88% of these were caught from the Atlantic, equating to the weight of 82,000 double decker buses.
  • In 2012 92% of the 91,000 tonnes of Blue Sharks reported landed from the Atlantic were caught by the European fleet.
  • No Limits? species: Blue Shark, Shortfin Mako, smoothhounds, Tope and catsharks. While not the only unmanaged sharks or rays, these species are caught in rapidly expanding fisheries and/or valued by emerging markets.  Together, the No Limits? species comprise over 97% of the sharks landed from the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

‘Reported landings’ versus fish caught: Not all fish caught by commercial fishing vessels are brought back to harbour for sale (the ‘landings’); many are ‘discarded’, mostly dead, back into the sea.  The accuracy of catch and discard reporting varies widely, but experts estimate that 3 to 4 times more fish are caught and die in fishing operations than are reported as landed.

The Drivers: Historically, only a few high value sharks (e.g. Mako, Porbeagle and Spiny Dogfish) were targeted for their meat, fins and liver oil. Most species identified in the No Limits? campaign were an unwanted, discarded, part of the ‘bycatch’ of fisheries for more valuable bony fishes (such as cod and tuna). In recent decades, however, there has been a marked increase in both the targeting and retention of bycaught sharks, leading to alarming declines in populations of many species and closure of some fisheries following their collapse.

(1) IUCN Red List Assessments can be viewed at and the IUCN’s global shark Red List assessment results at

Support No Limits? visit to learn more about the campaign and sign the petition

Also recent surveys across UK and Ireland make the socio economic case for RSA, results for Northern Ireland still being withheld one year on by DARD,update when available?


European Anglers Alliance

Recreational Fishing Included For The First Time As MEPs Vote For Radical CFP Reform
Angling Organisations across Europe survived a tense vote by MEPs on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) yesterday after it became apparent that Europe’s Greens were attempting to block the inclusion of “recreational fishing opportunities” from the final resolution.
In the end the reference was included when the Parliament voted by 502 to 137 in favour of sweeping reforms of the Common Fisheries Policy which will see, amongst other measures; an end to discarding of fish; a move to restoring depleted stocks and harvesting fish at maximum sustainable yield (the  maximum amount of fish that can be harvested without depleting the stock) by 2015; more long term management plans which will hopefully end the political horse trading that takes place in Brussels every December as Ministers ignore the scientific advice on how much can be harvested sustainably.
European anglers have been lobbying hard over recent years for recreational fishing to be recognised with specific reference in the reformed CFP after being invisible stakeholders in Europe’s fisheries policy ever since its introduction in 1983.
More recently recreational fishing has come under the spotlight for the perceived impact it has on commercial fishing opportunities without considering the huge socio-economic contribution recreational fishing (angling) makes to Europe and its extremely low environmental impact.
Late last year anglers’ efforts were rewarded when the EU Fisheries Committee included an amendment to the basic regulation text which would mean that the reformed CFP ensures that fishing activities are managed in a way that contributes to recreational fishing opportunities.
Jan Kappel, Secretary General of the European Anglers Alliance (EAA), representing approximately three million affiliated members across Europe, said, “I would like to congratulate all 502 MEPs who voted in favour of the final text. There will now be tough negotiations with the Council (the Member States) who will try and water down the reform measures voted through by the parliament. The explicit mention of recreational fishing in the CFP is great news. We expect the Council and Commission to accept the parliament´s opinion on this issue. Recreational fishers, like commercial fishers, are stakeholders in European fish stocks generating jobs and money. In many coastal areas recreational sea angling is by far the most important segment of the fisheries sector.”
Mike Heylin, Chairman of EAA’s Sea Sub-Group said, “Finally we have recognition of the needs of recreational anglers within the Common Fisheries Policy; that will mean that stocks have to be managed to suit anglers as well as commercial fishing. This is very welcome. New threats to recreational sea anglers´ access and their right to fishing are just around the corner. Recreational sea angling probably won’t be treated fairly without this clear mention in the CFP as suggested by the parliament. I’ll urge the Council to do as the parliament did, give recreational fishing an explicit mention in the CFP’s Article 2.”