Shark Trade Limits Endorsed by European Union

Germany wins EU blessing to propose spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks for listing under CITES

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.”

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.”

The Shark Alliance is a coalition of more than 20 non-governmental organizations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving European fishing policy. See for details.