Why focus on the Atlantic?
Many countries (including the US, Canada, Argentina and Brazil) have large commercial fishing fleets working in the Atlantic, however the EU fleet dominates shark landings from this ocean, accounting for almost 70% of all reported shark landings from the Atlantic between 2000 and 2012. Although EU-flagged vessels fish as far afield as the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the focus of their fishing effort is clear: between 2000 and 2012 88% of all sharks landed globally by EU vessels were caught in the Atlantic.
The EU is a significant global shark fishing power – three of the world’s top twenty shark fishing nations are European: Spain, Portugal and France. Within the EU, 97% of all reported shark landings from the Atlantic and Mediterranean between 2003 and 2012 were attributed to just five of the 28 member states: Spain, France, Portugal, UK and Ireland.
Since 2005 EU fishing effort in the Atlantic has intensified, with – in particular – Spain’s landings tracking in parallel, steadily increasing from 43% in 2003 to 79% in 2012. In 2012 over 97% of the sharks reported as landed from the Atlantic by the EU fleet were No Limits? species – yet there are STILL no EU or international limits on catch or trade of these species.
With the EU a major global shark fishing power, and the Atlantic the hub of EU fishing effort, management in the Atlantic is a vital component of sustainable shark fisheries.