Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sharks On The Agenda: international RFMO consider better management

A recent meeting held in San Sebastian, Spain by the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMO) produced some consensus on the need to control and better manage shark fisheries. The RFMOs are an international matrix of regional territories, each territory including certain key countries, with the responsibility of managing fisheries to not only insure their commercial future but the conservation of the species involved ranging from tuna to sharks to turtles to sea birds.

Concern over major fish stocks like tuna had preoccupied the RFMOs for some time but now concern has been raised regarding shark populations and the taking of sharks either deliberately or as accidental bycatch.

In a recent press release from Oceana:

Fishing Nations Seek Cooperative Action to Manage Shark Fisheries Worldwide

Washington -- Oceana issued the following statement from senior vice president for North America and chief scientist Dr. Michael F. Hirshfield in response to decisions made today in San Sebastian to manage shark fisheries worldwide.

"Oceana is encouraged by the language adopted today in San Sebastian concerning sharks and is pleased that fishing nations have included commitments for cooperative actions and concrete measures to regulate shark fisheries. These vulnerable species have suffered a lack of attention for far too long, and we now hope to see precautionary and ecosystem-based management implemented for sharks worldwide.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas seeks the cooperative management for 72 shark species, but today scientific advice only exists for two of them. Oceana shows that there is need to establish precautionary fishing limits for shark species caught in international waters.

Oceana would like to commend the United States delegation, with additional efforts by the European Union, for their persistence and commitment to ensuring that action-forcing language was adopted at the meeting,

Sharks are no longer ‘off the books' for the world's RFMOs. The world's regional tuna fishery management organizations are now on notice that they need to take specific, concrete steps to conserve sharks as soon as possible. We look forward to working with fishery managers to ensure that commitments made today result in true, in-the-water protections for sharks."

Good news but it will take continued vigilance to insure that their actions are sufficient and that there is the proper observance and enforcement to make it stick.

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