Battered sharks get critical listing



Posted on 05 December 2008  | 
Rome, Italy: Four commercially valuable shark species have just been recognized as being “of conservation concern” under the international Convention on Migratory Species.

The listing applies to northern hemisphere populations of spiny dogfish, a common ingredient of food staple fish and chips, and global populations of Porbeagle shark and both species of mako shark.

Intense debate saw southern hemisphere populations of spiny dogfish excluded from the listing on the agreement that a comprehensive population review will be conducted for the next meeting of the convention.

"WWF welcomes this listing by the CMS--the first listing by an international conservation convention of commercially utilized shark species,” said Dr Susan Lieberman, director of WWF International’s Species Programme.

“This shows that the world community now recognizes that sharks are over-fished, declining, and worthy of the kind of conservation concern afforded to other species."

The sharks have been listed under Appendix ll of the convention, which supports co-operation between range states on conservation plans for listed species. For migratory species it focuses attention on the status of the species and can help trigger other regional and international initiatives in fisheries management and trade.

The sharks, which are among the most valued of shark species for both meat and fins, suffer from excessive levels of targeted fishing as well as being bycatch casualties of other fisheries such as purse seining and long-lining for tuna.

The slow growth, late maturity, small litters and long lives of sharks make them vulnerable to over-exploitation. Porbeagle sharks gather together, making them especially easy targets for fishing – a critical factor in the collapse of their populations in the 1970s and continuing failure to demonstrate any lasting recovery.

Listing of all four species across their entire ranges was proposed but the porbeagle shark and the compromise on spiny dogfish were only agreed after intense negotiation.

WWF has also raised concerns over declining populations of Mediterranean bluefin tuna – subject of a recent International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) decision to continue fishing at well over scientifically recommended levels – as a species of concern before the migratory species convention.

Spiny dogfish.
© Juergen Freunds Enlarge
Porbeagle shark Lamna nasus
© Richard Peirce Enlarge

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required