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Javier Garat (center) with Daniel Voces (left) and Rosalie Tukker (right), general manager and adviser of Europêche

Fisheries sector urges EU Council not to endorse inclusion of shortfin mako shark

EUROPEAN UNION
Friday, April 26, 2019, 20:00 (GMT + 9)

The European fisheries sector has urged the EU Member States to refrain from proposing or supporting third countries to include the shortfin mako shark in Appendix II of CITES (1), ahead of the meeting of this body to be held from 23 May until June 3, in Colombo (Sri Lanka). The Member States will adopt their decision at the meeting of COREPER (Committee of Permanent Representatives) next May 8.
 
To this end, Europêche, the representative body for fishermen in the EU, seeks the commitment of different European countries, including Spain, in its defense of sustainable shark fishing and asks them not to lend their support to proposals, such as the one made by Mexico, a country that In addition, it has decided to withdraw its proposal, following the report of the FAO Expert Advisory Panel2. As this report literally says "globally, and taking into account low productivity and precautionary considerations, as well as the relatively good accuracy of estimates of the stock status provided by the assessments, there is no evidence that the species meets the criteria of inclusion in CITES Appendix II ".
 
 
 
To this end, the Secretary General of Cepesca and President of Europêche, Javier Garat, accompanied by the Director General and the Europêche Adviser, Daniel Voces and Rosalie Tukker, respectively, held meetings in Brussels this week with the Fisheries and Environment Councilors of the Permanent Representations (REPER) to the EU from France, the United Kingdom, Portugal, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain.
 
In these meetings, the fishing sector reiterated its recognition of the important work carried out by CITES to ensure that international trade does not threaten the survival of marine species; but reminded that there are already instruments and measures to guarantee the sustainability of shortfin mako (Ixurus oxirhinchus), established by several Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) in the different oceans (ICCAT, IOTC, IATTC and WCPFP), as well as by the governments of countries with fleets dedicated to their capture.
 

YouTube video: Mako shark  (Isurus oxyrinchus)
 
Likewise, the representatives of Europêche recalled the ICCATi Circular in which, among other issues, it is highlighted that tuna RFMOs are the best placed to introduce direct and appropriate management measures of shark populations. It also indicates that ICCAT established in 2014 a special Shark Research Program, financed annually, with special attention to shortfin mako, and warns on several occasions about the inaccuracies of several assertions related to the state of the stock and its future forecasts mentioned in the proposal of Mexico and its co-sponsors.
 
The document also states that the proponents have not taken into account the new recommendations and management measures approved in 2017 by ICCAT on the conservation of the shortfin mako stock of the North Atlantic (Recommendation 17-08), and warns that an immediate negative effect of the inclusion of a migratory species in the CITES lists means that scientific samples on the high seas of this species are no longer obtained.
 
Geographical distribution of Isurus oxyrinchus: The mako shark, shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) is a species of lamniform elasmobranch of the family Lamnidae, it has a very wide distribution: it is found in the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Oceans, Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea.
 
According to Javier Garat, "ICCAT scientists clearly suggest that the proposal of Mexico and its co-sponsors is not scientifically well-founded, that the inclusion in CITES of the shortfin mako will have negative consequences in obtaining scientific data and therefore in their assessments, and that RFMOs are actually the appropriate organizations to manage shark species, and not CITES. "
 
Garat recalled that Recommendation 17-08 of ICCAT, in force since 2017, establishes a series of management measures with the objective of reducing the fishing mortality of shortfin mako in the North Atlantic and achieving levels of exploitation that ensure Maximum Sustainable Yield, and that these measures have made it possible to reduce catches, increase the percentage of observers on board fishing vessels and improve the collection of data for scientific assessments. In May 2019, ICCAT will update the scientific evaluation and in November it will review the management measures in accordance with the recommendations of the scientific committee.

(1) Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.

The Conference of the Parties (CoP), which is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention and comprises all its Parties, has agreed in Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP17) on a set of biological and trade criteria to help determine whether a species should be included in Appendices I or II. At each regular meeting of the CoP, Parties submit proposals based on those criteria to amend these two Appendices. Those amendment proposals are discussed and then submitted to a vote. The Convention also allows for amendments by a postal procedure between meetings of the CoP (see Article XV, paragraph 2, of the Convention), but this procedure is rarely used.


On the other hand, the Panel of Experts of the FAO has stated that it is already prohibited to fish for shortfin mako in the Mediterranean and that there is no evidence that the populations of this species of the South Atlantic, Indian Ocean and North and South Pacific, meet the criteria of CITES.
 
On the other hand, the fishing sector recalls that this species is not comparable to others included in Appendix II of CITES, such as hammerhead sharks or whale sharks, which are not under the management of RFMOs and whose status is significantly worse, so they require measures different from those applied to shortfin mako.
 
Note: CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
 


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