The Issue

Blue Shark © Charles Hood

The Shark Trust’s No Limits? campaign highlights the urgent need to introduce science-based catch limits for unmanaged shark species. Blue Sharks and Shortfin Makos are caught in vast numbers on the high seas, while species such as Tope, smoothhounds and catsharks are caught in coastal fisheries. Together, these species account for over 90% of reported shark landings in the Atlantic, yet no international management measures are in place.

Historically, only a few high value sharks 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). However, due to increased retention for meat, diversification of fisheries, and a decline of target species (e.g. swordfish), landings have soared over the past decade. With no catch limits set for many species of shark, huge pressure is now placed on these populations.

Progress

2003

EU bans shark finning

The EU adopted a regulation banning shark finning (the removal of shark fins while at sea and the discarding of the carcass).  However the regulation contained a loophole which provided an opportunity for shark finning to continue undetected and unpunished.

2009

EU shark management plan

The EU finally adopted the Community Plan of Action-Sharks (CPOA-shark) – which contained an action to review and implement the European shark finning regulation.

2013

Fins naturally attached

The requirement to land sharks with their fins naturally attached finally came into force, establishing best-practice for the EU fleet worldwide, and representing the culmination of well over ten years work for the Shark Trust and our colleagues.

2014

Launch of No Limits? campaign

With the support of UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice and campaign Ambassador Steve Backshall, the Shark Trust launched No Limits?.

2015

Proposals for No Limits? species

The EU presented proposals at ICCAT for high-seas management of Atlantic Blue Sharks and Shortfin Makos. These proposals did not gain the necessary traction and fisheries remain unlimited.

2016

Shark League formed

The Shark League for the Atlantic and Mediterranean was formed by the Shark Trust, Shark Advocates International, Project Aware and Ecology Action Centre. This coalition focuses its efforts on advocating for catch limits, better protections for endangered species and enforceable shark finning bans in Regional Fisheries Management Organisations.

2016

Modest Atlantic Limit on Blues

An EU proposal lead to the adoption of a modest measure for Blue Sharks at ICCAT – this was a small yet unprecedented step toward establishing limits on Blue Shark catches from the North Atlantic.

2017

Petitions delivered to EU Commission

In March, the Shark Trust delivered over 130,000 signatures supporting the call to end uncontrolled shark fishing to the EU Commission in Brussels.

2017

"Binding Recommendation" for Mako

Scientific advice recommended that to stop overfishing and give the best chance of recovery, a complete ban on retaining Shortfin Mako should be implemented. Management fell short, but there is now a Binding Recommendation requiring live release.

2017

No Limits? Mako’ver

With scientists focusing their attention on Shortfin Makos at ICCAT as it was a stock assessment year, campaign focus also shifted from Blue Sharks to Shortfin Mako.

2018

Move4Makos Campaign

UK shark lovers come out to show support for makos. #Move4Makos got people running, cycling, climbing, swimming, boating, skating…you name it. All to show support for science-based catch limits. 

2019

A Catch Limit for Blue Sharks at Last

ICCAT adopt groundbreaking new catch limits for Blue Shark in the North and South Atlantic.
2019

ICCAT Stalemate on Mako

Support at ICCAT annual meeting for Mako. A science-led retention ban proposed by 10 countries. But opposition from EU and US prevented any action to halt unsustainable fishing.

2020

EU and US do it again...

For the second year, EU and US blocked progress towards a science-based ban on Mako fisheries in the North Atlantic. A special ICCAT “inter-sessional” meeting on Mako agreed for July 2021

2020

Reprieve for Mako

EU Member State scientists reviewing mako obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) issued an “opinion” that points to EU Member States banning North Atlantic Shortfin Mako imports, including those introduced from the high seas by EU fishing vessels. 

The Sharks

No Limits? focuses on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Makos. These are highly migratory species mainly caught on the high seas, and therefore are in need of international management. Coastal species such as Tope, catsharks (Smallspotted Catshark and Nursehound) and smoothhounds (Starry Smoothhound and Common Smoothhound) are also caught in increasing numbers and currently lack regional management. We want to see measures brought in for these often overlooked species which are caught in mixed fisheries. While Tope have limited management in the UK, this needs to be extended across their range.

The Underdogs

Smoothhound © Peter Verhoog

High Seas Sharks

Blue Shark and Shortfin Mako © Andy Murch

Download Shark ID Guides

Photo Wall

Thank you to everyone who has gone the extra mile and moved for makos so far!

Get Involved

No Limits? appeals to the public to support the adoption of science-based catch limits for species currently without management. Action is needed before it’s too late and today’s commercial shark species follow other previously abundant Atlantic stocks into collapse. Don’t forget that although the campaign focusses on EU fishing vessels this is a global issue, which will affect shark populations worldwide.

 

GET THE KIDS INVOLVED — It’s vital that the future generation have their say. Colour in and make your own shark chatterbox and write your own Shortfin Mako facts inside. Don’t forget to send us photos of your creations!

 

SPREAD THE WORD — Social media is a powerful tool, spreading information far and wide in just one click. Follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter, and share using #NoLimitsNoFuture #MakeTime4Makos and #Move4Makos

Steve Backshall signs the No Limits? petition.

Resources (Downloadable)

Mako’ver PDFs – A5 Leaflet | A4 Poster | Mako’ver Banner

Supporters

What our supporters say…

Over the last year alone, I’ve had the great privilege of many hours underwater with sharks of various shapes and sizes. Many have been smaller species, such as the catsharks, Tope and smoothhound you commonly see on British dives. However, I’ve also dived outside the cage with Great White Sharks, gone nose to nose with Tigers and Bulls, and followed Pilot Whales in order to freedive with the Oceanic Whitetips that trail them. I’ve shared the seas with makos – the fastest shark on earth, as well as Lemon Sharks, Silkies and various reef sharks. Every encounter has been a true wonder, and I have learned to not only respect, but deeply love these majestic, exciting creatures. I’ve also found out through experience quite how harmless to humans these ancient animals really are.

Steve Backshall

The work that the Shark Trust does in raising awareness of the plight of these iconic species is really, really important, these are incredibly charismatic species yet they face a number of important threats: habitat loss, secondly climate change, thirdly – and perhaps most importantly – the damage caused by unregulated fishing practices.

George Eustice

Press

EU Holds the Cards for Endangered Atlantic Sharks

It’s make or break time for Shortfin Makos as Spain sets to host international fisheries meeting. Conservationists are focused on the European Union ahead of an international gathering of fishing nations that could make or break the future of Endangered mako sharks.

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World’s Fastest Shark Headed for Disaster

Fishing nations gathered for the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) have failed to address continued overfishing of mako sharks or strengthen the regional ban on shark finning.

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Shark Fishing Decisions at Atlantic Tuna Meeting Fall Short

Fishing nations gathered for the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) have failed to adopt recommended limits to protect shortfin mako sharks from overfishing or strengthen the regional ban on shark finning.

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Baby Step for Blue Sharks

ICCAT fishery managers aim to cap North Atlantic Blue Shark catch as momentum to ban at-sea fin removal grows VILAMOURA, PORTUGAL// Fishing nations gathered for the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) have...

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No Limits? The Mako’ver

With no catch limits set for many shark species, landings have soared over recent decades, placing huge pressure on shark populations. Launched in 2014, the Trust’s No Limits? campaign highlighted the urgent need to introduce science-based catch limits for Blue...

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Contact

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The Shark Trust4 Creykes Court, The Millfields, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 3JB, United Kingdom

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Shark Trust
4 Creykes Court
The Millfields
Plymouth
Devon
PL1 3JB
United Kingdom