The Drivers

Shortfin Mako © Charles Hood.

Shortfin Mako © Charles Hood.

Historically, only a few high value sharks (e.g. Shortfin Mako, Porbeagle, Spiny Dogfish) 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.

shark-fin Did you know?
Shark fins are amongst the most expensive seafood products in the world often fetching well over US$400 per kilo, whereas shark meat is usually low value.

 

The result is that formerly abundant species (such as Spiny Dogfish and 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 – in fact recent assessments by the IUCN concluded that 25% of all sharks, skates and rays are now considered threatened meaning they face an increased risk of extinction (1).

The primary driver in this shift towards retention of bycaught sharks is the high value of their fins, which are highly valuable commodities in a global trade worth hundreds of millions of pounds annually. Research in 2006 indicated that the fins of 26-73 million sharks were traded worldwide each year, although the number of sharks caught as part of the fin trade was estimated to be three to four times higher (2). A range of species are also valued for their meat, cartilage and liver oil.



References:

1. Dulvy NK, et al. 2014. Extinction risk and conservation of the world’s sharks and rays. eLIFE 3: e00590.

2. Clarke S, et al. 2006. Global estimates of shark catches using trade records from commercial markets. Ecology Letters, 9, 1115–1126.

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