In its press release after the 26th Regular Meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas in Palma di Mallorca in November 2019 the commission claims that improvements for the conservation of threatened sharks in the Atlantic have been achieved.
‘Several conservation and management measures were adopted for sharks, with special attention being dedicated to the shortfin mako. The Commission could not reach a consensus on the annual catch limits, but agreed to impose restrictions for vessels to catch and retain on board, transship or land North Atlantic shortfin mako. The Commission also agreed to hold an inter-sessional meeting in 2020 to develop and propose additional measures towards achieving conservation and management objectives for this stock. For the first time ICCAT established annual TACs for blue shark, of 39,102 t and 28,923 t for North and South Atlantic, respectively.”1)
It is indeed very disappointing to see that ICCAT has once more failed to agree on meaningful conservation measures for the endangered shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) in the Atlantic and did not follow the scientific advise for a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of zero in the complete Atlantic.
And while the agreed catch limit for blue shark (Prionace glauca) is the first time that any catch limit has been issued for the Atlantic for this vulnerable species at all, the agreed TAC is far from addressing the problem of the ongoing overfishing of this species, which would have required a substantial reduction of catches. The agreed TAC of almost 69,000 t for Atlantic blue sharks is indeed in the same magnitude as the annual catch of blue sharks in 2017 and almost double the tonnage of blue sharks that had been caught in 2001! 2)
Sharkproject and other conservation organizations have long been calling for a significant catch reduction, requesting better conservation measures in Europe in order to stop the continued exploitation of all pelagic shark species in the Atlantic and the fatal impact of this wasteful exploitation on the complete marine ecosystem.