“For now at least, the trajectory of the fastest shark in the North Atlantic, which had been racing toward extinction, has been diverted and we are pleased with the outcome of these negotiations. But as we stare down the barrel of the global biodiversity crisis, we can’t afford to continue to ignore scientific recommendations.”
After years of inaction, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)—the international entity responsible for the management of Atlantic tuna and bycatch species, including sharks, has finally reached a decision that will benefit the endangered and overfished population of North Atlantic shortfin makos.
The more than 50 members of the Commission adopted a retention ban for the species that will extend for the next two years. This means country members of ICCAT will not be allowed to retain on board, transship or land North Atlantic shortfin makos.
“For now at least, the trajectory of the fastest shark in the North Atlantic, which had been racing toward extinction, has been diverted and we are pleased with the outcome of these negotiations,” said Alejandra Goyenechea, senior international counsel for Defenders of Wildlife. “But as we stare down the barrel of the global biodiversity crisis, we can’t afford to continue to ignore scientific recommendations.”
Since 2017, the scientific committee for ICCAT—which carries out stock assessments and advised the commission—has repeatedly recommended the adoption of a retention ban, but not enough countries had demonstrated a willingness to follow that advice.
“Two years is better than nothing, but it’s a drop in the bucket when compared to the lifespans and reproductive cycles of makos, which are very slow,” said Goyenechea. “The fight for the future of the shortfin mako is not over, but today marine biodiversity notched a win.”
At this year’s meeting, Canada, the United Kingdom, Senegal and Gabon were strong advocates for the retention ban of the shortfin mako.
Defenders will continue to work with ICCAT member countries and advocate for the necessary and adequate protections for the species to recover.