“Rational” approach to shark plan needed – Fishupdate.com

“Rational” approach to shark plan needed Published:  20 February, 2008

THE Brussels-based Advisory Committee on Fisheries and of Aquaculture (ACFA) has said that a rational and non-emotional approach to an EU action plan for sharks should be adopted.

And catching must be maintained in a sustainable and responsible way where, for example, sharks are recognised as a significant resource for fishing communities.

The European Commission has consulted ACFA within the framework of the preparation of an EU action plan for sharks.

The ACFA stated that it recognised the need to manage catches of sharks since they represent an important catch for the profitability of companies, constitute a by-catch or accidental catch, represent an important catch for recreational fishing, constitute an attraction for sectors other than fishing and finally since sharks play a key role in the maintenance of the balance of the marine ecosystems.

The importance of collecting and evaluating information on the biological characteristics and catches of sharks was also highlighted by ACFA. This was to measure and minimise the uncertainty areas, and, on the other hand, to objectively assess and measure at the same time the socio-economic risks consequent to preventative action and the risks of non-implementation of the preventative measures for the conservation of the species of sharks concerned. The result of these risks’ evaluations, in all cases, has to be shared with stakeholders it says.

Other necessary action point inclusions were:

· Fitting into a European and international policy of sustainable use of marine resources and conservation of marine biodiversity.

· Underlining the importance of improving knowledge and identification of captured sharks and traded shark products throughout the chain, by making the declaration systems more precise, harmonising data collection and observer programmes (national or Community) and by undertaking species identification training programmes for vessel crews and the personnel intervening at the time of sorting and sale;

· Adopting catch limits for sharks, fixed on the basis of the best possible evaluations produced by ICES or the scientific committees of concerned RFMOs or, when these evaluations are not available, in favour of the adoption of precautionary TACs to be established on the basis of fishing statistics and recommendations of independent and institutionally recognized scientific authorities; and

· Opposing the practice of finning, which consists of discarding at sea the sharks (live or dead) after removing their fins, something which constitutes a waste of resources.

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