Hidden shark catches
A new report by Oceana has revealed that 24 countries may be catching sharks in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterannean Sea but failing to report them, as required by the Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).
Oceana says that it has identified countries that may not have complied with ICCAT regulations, by comparing 2012 data on reported shark catches in ICCAT and the international shark fin trade.
It says that some countries did not report any shark catches but exported shark fins to Hong Kong nonetheless, and others, which operate ICCAT authorised longliners and are likely to catch sharks, also reported no catches.
“This year, ICCAT is finally in a position to penalise countries that flout their obligation to provide data on shark catches,” said Dr Allison Perry, marine wildlife scientist with Oceana in Europe.
She added: “Data reporting is the most basic requirement for responsible fisheries management – without knowing how many sharks are being caught, it is impossible to know what impact fisheries are having on these vulnerable animals.”
This week, 47 Contracting Parties fishing highly migratory species in the Atlantic and Mediterranean will convene to discuss management and conservation.
Ocean says that sharks will be high on the agenda this year, with key measures to protect threatened shark species under discussion, including the replacement of ICCAT’s "weak" shark finning regulation with a strict ban that would require all sharks to be landed with their fins untouched.
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