Leading shark charity calls for Europe to embed a ‘culture of sustainability’ in shark fisheries

UK// On Good Friday, millions of Britons will witness the extraordinary sight of scores of sharks feeding off a floating whale carcass in UK waters. In ‘Britain’s Sharks’, the second part of a new prime-time ITV documentary, viewers will see Ben Fogle and Ellie Harrison come face to face with more than a hundred Blue Sharks that call British waters home for part of the year.

Yet despite the large numbers of Blue Sharks seen in the film, this is a species with an uncertain future, fished in extraordinary numbers without any catch limits or management. The Shark Trust, a UK-based charity that works globally to safeguard the future of sharks, warns that while they may appear abundant now, populations could soon become threatened if uncontrolled fishing continues.

The Trust’s No Limits? campaign demands an end to uncontrolled shark fishing and the charity is calling for European nations to take a leading role in adopting sustainable management practices.

As it stands, Blue Sharks and other No Limits? species – Shortfin Mako, Tope, smoothhounds and catsharks – account for over 97% of reported Atlantic shark landings, which amounts to hundreds of thousands of tonnes, representing many millions of sharks each year. The Shark Trust’s No Limits? campaign highlights the urgent need to introduce science-based catch limits, ensuring all shark fisheries are managed for sustainability, securing the future of species and ensuring that sights, such as those filmed by the ITV crew, can be witnessed for generations to come.

Paul Cox, Managing Director of the Shark Trust, says, “No limits on sharks makes no sense. It’s estimated that 10-20 million Blue Sharks are caught each year. Is this sustainable? Probably not, but without catch limits we can’t even begin to manage for a sustainable future for these beautiful and vital sharks.”

The top four European shark fishing nations are Spain, Portugal, France and the UK who, between them, account for 95% of the recorded landings in the EU. The Shark Trust sees the engagement of these nations as key to achieving its aims in Europe.

Director of Conservation, Ali Hood, says, “Our No Limits? campaign has been really well received in the UK, people can see the sense in managing fisheries for sharks. Europe can play a uniquely influential role in establishing a culture of sustainability for shark fisheries management, an essential step towards safeguarding the future of sharks.

“What we have to do next is to take No Limits? to Europe, gaining support from citizens in other nations as we have in the UK. Our Crowdfunder campaign, that we are launching off the back of the TV show, is aimed at enabling us to do that through a series of pop-up events in key capital cities.”

The Crowdfunder campaign offers ocean lovers a range of unique rewards in return for supporting the Shark Trust to raise funds for the European campaign. They aim to take the No Limits? campaign into the capitals of the four major shark fishing nations, engaging the public and securing political support for the EU to deliver effective shark management. In October, the Shark Trust will meet with politicians in Brussels where they will call on Europe to take a leading role in the reform of shark fishing, ensuring that limits are set for European fleets and to maintain a proactive position in high seas fisheries negotiations.

Sustainable fisheries management features strongly in a new 10-year global strategy that was launched by the Shark Trust as part of a global partnership in Costa Rica in February. The Strategy sets out a roadmap to secure a substantial improvement in the conservation status of sharks and rays by 2025. Identifying a ‘window of opportunity’ the partnership highlights the need to mix protection for the most vulnerable species with sustainable fisheries management and responsible trade and consumption of shark products as the most pragmatic and effective approach for conservation. The report including details of the partnership can be found at www.sharktrust.org/globalstrategy.

Viewers of of the show are urged to join the fight to safeguard shark species and help the Shark Trust with its No Limits? campaign. In addition to the Crowdfunder appeal, the No Limits? website contains more information on the topic and a petition: www.nolimitsnofuture.org.

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Notes to editors:

The Shark Trust was established in 1997 to provide a voice for sharks in the UK. It is now a well-respected advocate for shark management and protection and is part of a global collaborative movement in shark conservation; working to safeguard shark, skate and ray populations through science, education, influence and action. www.sharktrust.org @SharkTrustUK

The Shark Trust launched the No Limits? campaign in 2014 in response to the crisis posed by unlimited and escalating shark fishing pressure. It 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. The No Limits? campaign calls on national governments, the European Commission and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (high seas regulators) to recognise that management is urgently required for all commercially exploited shark species and to introduce and enforce science-based catch limits without delay.

For more information, please contact:
Paul Cox, The Shark Trust, +44 (0)1752 229087 / paul@sharktrust.org
Anna Murray / Sophie Douglas, Formedia PR, +44 (0)1752 764222 / sharktrust@formedia.co.uk