Brussels: The Shark Alliance is applauding today’s decision by European Union Member States to support Germany’s proposals to provide protection for spiny dogfish sharks (Squalus acanthias) and porbeagle sharks (Lamna nasus) under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Following debate at the European Commission’s CITES Committee, the proposals received the qualified majority needed to advance to the Conference of the Parties to CITES in June 2007.
“By adopting these landmark proposals, the European Union is poised to lead the world toward sustainable, international trade in commercially important sharks and these oft-disregarded species will at last get the global attention they need,” said Sonja Fordham, Policy Director for the Shark Alliance. “We thank Germany for their diligence and urge all EU Member States to promote the adoption of these sound proposals at next year’s CITES meeting.”
Spain, unfortunately, was still opposed to controlling these commercial species via CITES, and did not support the proposals, once again showing its unwillingness to contribute to and support shark conservation. “It is clear that Spain is still not convinced of the need to protect these animals. In a case as clear as this one, when there was a total consensus among the scientists, and one dealing with critically endangered populations, this country should have shown its full support hands down. We would like to see the Spanish government change its attitude on shark conservation, instead of neglecting the issue,” said Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe.
Spiny dogfish are sought primarily for their meat which is exported from all corners of the globe to satisfy European demand for fish and chips and smoked belly flaps. Fisheries generally target pregnant females resulting in severe population damage. Porbeagle meat is particularly prized in Europe while fins are exported to Asia for use in shark fin soup. Germany proposed the listings to ensure international trade in these vulnerable species is limited to sustainable levels.
Serious depletion from overfishing has landed spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Northeast and Northwest Atlantic populations are considered Critically Endangered and Endangered, respectively. Still, allowable catch levels continue to be set well above scientific advice. The EU Council sets their spiny dogfish and porbeagle catch limits later this week.
“International trade limits are essential, but won’t save spiny dogfish and porbeagle populations in EU waters,” added Fordham. “The EU must follow this responsible, international stance with science based decisions for sharks in EU waters. We urge Member States to vote at the Fisheries and Agriculture Council meeting this week to end fishing for these depleted species, as recommended by scientists.”
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