EU urged to protect sharks – Fishupdate.com

EU urged to protect sharks Published:  18 December, 2006

THE Shark Alliance is urging the European Union (EU) to heed scientific advice regarding two “imperiled” sharks species – spiny dogfish and porbeagle.

It says that this week, through decisions regarding international trade and regional catch limits, the European union (EU) will decide the fate of these species.

The Shark Alliance is urging all EU Member States to support adoption of Germany’s proposals to list spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It is also seeking a reduction in proposed fishing limits for these species to levels in line with scientific advice.

The first action is aimed at restricting international trade in these sharks’ meat and fins while the second restricts the amount of these shark species EU vessels can take from the Northeast Atlantic.

Today the European Commission (EC) CITES Scientific Review Group (SRG) will meet to discuss Germany’s proposals to restrict trade in spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks under CITES Appendix II. The proposed action would set up safeguards to ensure that international trade in these vulnerable species is limited to sustainable levels.

The SRG provides the Commission with scientific advice on CITES issues. The Commission is assisted by the EC CITES Committee, composed of representatives from Member State Management Authorities and chaired by the Commission.

This will be followed by a meeting of the EC CITES Committee tomorrow. It will consider the advice from the SRG and agree on whether to adopt Germany’s spiny dogfish and porbeagle proposals and submit them to CITES on behalf of the EU.

Adoption by the EU is necessary for the proposals to advance to the Conference of the Parties to CITES in June 2007. The Parties to CITES meet about every two and a half years.

From Tuesday until Thursday, the EU Fisheries and Agriculture Council will meet to decide on the 2007 limits on catch of spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks from the Northeast Atlantic. According to the Shark Alliance, both species have been seriously overfished in the Northeast Atlantic and are considered Critically Endangered in this region by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Scientists have advised no fishing on these populations. It says the European Commission has instead proposed catch limits that are inconsistent with scientific advice and allow unsustainable, targeted fishing to continue.

“Next week’s decisions are crucial to the fate of the imperiled spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks. In the span of a few days, EU officials have the opportunity to begin the recovery of these key European shark species and to lead the world in ensuring their international trade is sustainable” said Sonja Fordham, Policy Director of the Shark Alliance.

“We urge Member States to choose the responsible path toward conservation of these valuable yet vulnerable animals.”

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