After the breakthough for shark protection at the annual CITES meeting in Panama, reported earlier on Divernet, further good news has emerged with the adoption of the first international mako shark quota at an ICCAT meeting in Portugal.
ICCAT is the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas and, after success for blue sharks in 2019 and makos in the North Atlantic last year, in 2022 the focus had switched to the South Atlantic. The quota decision was made at the commission’s 23rd special meeting in Vale do Lobo, which ended yesterday (21 November).
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The world’s first population-wide fishing quota for highly vulnerable shortfin mako sharks sets a South Atlantic catch limit (covering landings as well as mortality from discarding) within a level that had been recommended by scientists in 2019. The reduced allocations to individual fishing parties are calculated to cut by 40-60% their landings of the Endangered shark species.
“At long last, ICCAT has ended the free-for-all that was South Atlantic mako fishing,” said Ali Hood, director of conservation for UK-based charity the Shark Trust. “Although more lenient than a ban, the new mako landing limits are well-placed to achieve a substantial reduction in fishing pressure on the South Atlantic population.
“We thank the UK and EU for prompting these negotiations and seeing them through to a meaningful result on which we must continuously and ambitiously build.”
The Shark Trust also welcomed the CITES news from Panama. “First up was the proposal to list more than 50 requiem sharks, including sandbar sharks, Caribbean reef sharks and tiger sharks, which was never going to go unopposed given that it included as a look-alike species blue sharks – a lucrative element of high-seas longline fisheries.
“Following much debate, with proposed amendments overturned, the vote supported the listing on Appendix II of CITES. Further proposals for small hammerheads and freshwater sting rays met less opposition, passing with consensus, and guitarfishes by a convincing margin.”
The Shark Trust extended its congratulations “to all NGOs and individuals who support #CITES4Sharks and who worked so hard to get these proposals on the table at both CITES and ICCAT. We look forward to seeing these CITES proposals formally adopted in plenary later this week!” The 19th convention closes on 25 November.