The Shark Trust first launched No Limits? in 2014 in response to the crisis posed by unlimited shark fishing. Formerly abundant species (such as Porbeagle) have already been subject to decades of unmanaged fishing, and subsequently experienced dramatic population crashes (with Porbeagle now considered Critically Endangered in the Northeast Atlantic). Management is urgently needed for the No Limits? species before it’s too late and these commercially fished species follow other once abundant Atlantic stocks into collapse.
Top shark fishing nations
Europe is a significant global shark fishing power, with three EU Member States (Spain, Portugal and France) amongst the world’s top twenty shark fishing nations. Although EU-flagged vessels fish as far afield as the Pacific and Indian Oceans, 86% of all sharks landed by EU vessels were caught in the Atlantic (2000 – 2015). Many other countries including Morocco, USA, Japan, Canada, Namibia, and South Africa also have large commercial fishing interests in the Atlantic.
The largest Atlantic shark fisheries primarily target tuna and swordfish by longline, however bycatch of Blue Shark and Shortfin Mako dominate their landings and make the fisheries profitable. In 2015 over 90% of the sharks reported as landed from the Atlantic were No Limits? campaign species – yet there are still no international limits on catch or trade of these species.
The Shark Trust is advocating for catch limits to be introduced for No Limits? species, with collaboration from our partners in the Shark League for the Atlantic and Mediterranean. With the Atlantic a hotspot for shark fishing effort, science based management in this ocean would represent a vital step towards global sustainable shark fisheries.
Reported vs Unreported Catch
In 2015 (the most recent year data has been released for) over 280,000 tonnes of sharks were reported landed (brought back to port for sale) globally. However, the actual total catch is likely to be three to four times higher as many catches go unreported.
High Seas Management
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO). ICCAT Parties (member countries) attend an annual meeting at which management proposals are considered for tunas and tuna-like species (including sharks).