The Campaign

Blue Shark & Shortfin Mako © Andy Murch.

Blue Shark & Shortfin Mako © Andy Murch.

The Shark Trust first launched the No Limits? campaign in 2014, in response to the crisis posed by unlimited and escalating shark fishing pressure. With no catch limits set for many shark species, landings have soared over the past decade, placing huge pressure on shark populations. No Limits? highlights the urgent need to introduce science-based catch limits for Blue Sharks, Shortfin Mako, Tope, smoothhounds and catsharks – species accounting for over 97% of reported Atlantic shark landings. 


Unlimited Fishing

In 2015 (the most recent year data has been collated for) over 280,000 tonnes of sharks were reported landed* globally, however, experts believe the actual total catch is likely to be three to four times higher. Yet many shark species can be caught and landed in unlimited numbers.

* ‘Reported landings’ versus fish caught:
Not all fish caught by commercial fishing vessels are brought back to harbour for sale (the ‘landings’); many are ‘discarded’, mostly dead, back into the sea. The accuracy of catch and discard reporting varies widely, but experts estimate that three to four times more fish are caught and die in fishing operations than are reported as landed.

Accounting for over 40% of all global shark landings in 2012, Europe is a significant global shark fishing power with three EU Member States among the world’s top twenty shark fishing nations. In the Atlantic and Mediterranean, the EU fleet accounted for 70% of all reported shark landings between 2000 and 2012, which amounts to hundreds of thousands of tonnes, representing many millions of sharks each year. Yet there are STILL no EU or international limits on the catch or trade of these No Limits? species.

The largest EU shark fisheries are fished by pelagic longliners on the Atlantic high seas, primarily targeting tuna and swordfish, but ‘bycatch’ of Blue Shark and Shortfin Mako dominate their landings and make the fisheries profitable.

No Limits? appeals to the public to support the adoption of science-based catch limits, before it’s too late and today’s commercially fished shark species follow other once abundant Atlantic stocks into collapse.

 

The Drivers

Historically, only a few high value sharks were targeted by fishing vessels for their meat, fins and liver oil. Most species included in the No Limits? campaign were an unwanted, discarded part of the ‘bycatch’ in fisheries for more valuable bony fishes (such as cod and tuna). In recent decades, however, there has been a marked increase in the targeting and retention of these species, leading to alarming population declines for many, as well as the collapse and closure of some fisheries.

The result is that formerly abundant species (such as Porbeagle) were subject to decades of unmanaged fishing, and subsequently experienced dramatic population crashes – with Northeast Atlantic sub-populations now assessed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Experts have agreed that extinction risk is far higher for sharks and their relatives than for most other vertebrates – 2014 assessments by the IUCN concluded that 25% of all sharks and rays are now considered threatened, meaning they face an increased risk of extinction.

Why Are Limits Needed?

No Limits?

No Future!

In 2012 over 280,000t* of
sharks were reported landed
globally. The actual total
catch is likely to be 3 to 4
times higher
. EU vessels are
responsible for just over
40% of the reported
landings.

*roughly equivalent to 21,000 double decker buses.

Reported EU Landings

Atlantic & Med | To the nearest 100 Tonnes
Rollover sharks for numbers | 2000 - 2012

* conservative estimate of number of individual sharks based on reported landings

Over 97%

Of sharks caught and landed from the
Atlantic and Med are No Limits? species (2012)
(>6,400,000 sharks - conservative estimate based on reported landings)

92% Blue Shark

Percentage of reported Blue Shark landings from the Atlantic attributed to the EU fleet (2012)

(> 89% attributed to Spain)

A typical pelagic longliner sets:
3000 hooks, on 200 longlines, up to 60 miles long

Longline Fishing Boats

The largest EU shark fisheries are fished by pelagic longliners targeting tuna and swordfish.

Over
88%

of longline catches can be sharks.
In coastal waters trawlers and gillnets
also catch sharks in substantial
numbers

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Sign the petition and support the Shark Trust's call for an end to uncontrolled shark fishing. No Limits? No Future.

SIGN PETITION
15%
57%
15%
8%
2%
0.5%
1%
0.5%
15% 57% 15% 8% 2% 1% 1% 1%

Atlantic
Shark Landings

121,370
124,140
98,894
97,751
96,776
86,932
91,998
97,073
99,876
105,858
123,576
138,739
139,736
84,709
88,149
67,871
66,871
67,518
57,332
56,549
61,300
64,254
72,285
90,152
102,502
105,527
37,432
32,473
28,345
30,416
31,534
31,938
35,853
41,393
46,698
52,801
71,746
87,694
91,329