The fight to protect endangered species of shark has taken another step forward as North Atlantic shortfin mako has been given protected status by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). The ban follows years of work by the Shark Trust, together with its Shark League and PADI AWARE Foundation partners.
The North Atlantic shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) are exceptionally vulnerable to overfishing and are classed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List with populations decreasing globally. The North Atlantic population has been hit particularly hard by the EU fishing fleet, which took 74 per cent of the 2020 regional catch of shortfin mako. Spain was by some way the largest offender, taking more than 50 per cent of the 2019 catch and ‘grossly exceeding’ a 2020 limit, which led to the Spanish government imposing a moratorium on the landing, sale and trade of shortfin mako in Feburary 2021.
‘At long last, we have the basis for a game-changing rebuilding plan, but it won’t be successful if we take our eyes off the EU and their egregious intent to resume fishing a decade before rebuilding is predicted to begin,’ said Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust. ‘In this moment, however, we focus on the overwhelming chorus of concern that helped us reach this critical breakthrough. We’re deeply grateful for the “voices for makos” – the continuous calls from conservationists, divers, scientists, aquarists, retailers, and elected representatives to protect this beleaguered shark.’
While the ban will be initially in place for two years, the Shark Trust says that the move ‘shifts the emphasis of the debate’ and ~North Atlantic fisheries of both Europe and America will now have to justify the recommencement of fishing for a globally endangered species of shark. The Shark Trust says it ‘will be keeping a close eye on future discussions.’
‘We’re pleased that the US has accepted the mako ban that scientists advise and hope that it signals a shift back toward leadership in shark conservation,’ said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International. ‘With all the existing commitments and warnings about the dire status of makos, this win should not have been this hard. We urge all Parties to align their ICCAT and CITES obligations for makos, and strive to augment rather than relax this crucial recovery effort.’
- Dive Project Cornwall launches crowdfunding campaign - 26 May 2022
- Shark Trust reports bumper eggcase hunt results - 26 May 2022
- Spring jellyfish blooms bring turtles to UK shores - 25 May 2022