The Shark Trust has launched what it says is its biggest-ever concerted campaign against the overfishing of oceanic sharks – and it is calling on divers to join others in signing its Big Shark Pledge.
The UK-based charity hopes to build the “largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history”, in support of policy actions that would impose science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. “Science-based” means that restrictions would need to be realistic from the point of view of the fishing industry as well as conservationists.
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“It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action,” said Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox of the initiative. “By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.”
Recent research has confirmed that more than 75% of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction through overfishing, their populations having declined by 71% over the past 50 years.
Build on the success
Currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Shark Trust wants the Big Shark Pledge to build on the success of its earlier NoLimits? campaign, which underpinned landmark catch-limits on blue and shortfin mako sharks in the North Atlantic.
Last week the number of shark species listed on Appendix II of CITES was more than doubled, while the Shark League, which includes the Shark Trust, helped to secure the first international quota for South Atlantic makos at the ICCAT meeting in Portugal, as reported on Divernet. But the Shark Trust has warned against complacency following these achievements, and says that its new objective calls for a long-term international and collaborative effort.
“While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries,” said Shark Trust director of conservation Ali Hood.
“Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for blues and makos.” Find out more on YouTube and sign the pledge.