Sharks are more popular than ever – unfortunately as food for humans! They also fall prey to factory fishing vessels as ‘collateral damage’ for the fish industry, and they are hunted for sport. This month the International Union for the Conservation of Nature reports that shark, ray and chimaera species are much more threatened in the northeast Atlantic than they are globally. Read more…
Link on right – watch the BBC iPlayer – Paul Rose recounts a wonderful, nocturnal encounter with six-gill sharks in the Mediterranean Sea. Paul had a huge chunk of tuna attached to him – confident that he was in no danger – to attract the sharks! Wow, I really envy the team on BBC Oceans.
The IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG) aims to promote the long-term conservation of the world’s chondrichthyan (cartilaginous) fishes, and it’s in the process of assessing the status of cartilaginous fishes (roughly 1,000 species).
Seven percent of species in the northeast Atlantic are classified as Critically Endangered, seven percent as Endangered, and 12 percent as Vulnerable, primarily due to overfishing. This means 26 percent are threatened in the northeast Atlantic, compared with 18 percent globally.
“From angel sharks to devil rays, northeast Atlantic populations of these vulnerable species are in serious trouble, more so than in many other parts of the world,” says Claudine Gibson, former Programme Officer for the IUCN SSG and lead author of the report.
“Most sharks and rays are exceptionally vulnerable to overfishing because of their tendency to grow slowly, mature late, and produce few young. Those at greatest risk of extinction in the northeast Atlantic include heavily fished, large sharks and rays, like porbeagle and common skate, as well as commercially valuable deepwater sharks and spiny dogfish.”
Way behind the ecological data, the EU has only thus far set quotas for 4 species out of the 116 in northeast Atlantic zones.
“Never before have European countries had more reason or opportunity to safeguard the beleaguered shark and ray species of the northeast Atlantic,” says Sonja Fordham, Deputy Chair of the IUCN SSG and Policy Director for the Shark Alliance. “Country officials should heed the dire warnings of this report and act to protect threatened sharks and rays at national, regional and international levels. Such action is immediately possible and absolutely necessary to change the current course toward extinction of these remarkable ocean animals.”