The Shark Trust has launched its No Limits? campaign 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. The Trust’s No Limits? campaign 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.
In 2012 (the most recent year data has been collated for) over 280,000 tonnes of sharks were reported landed* globally. Experts believe the actual total catch is likely to be 3 to 4 times higher. Yet many shark species can be caught and landed in unlimited numbers. The No Limits? campaign highlights the urgent need for science-based catch limits for Blue Sharks, Shortfin Mako, Tope, smoothhounds and catsharks – species currently open to unchecked exploitation and unrestricted trade.
Did you know…‘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 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? No Future! 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.