Coalition Achieves Conservation Gains for Atlantic Blue Shark

Coalition Achieves Conservation Gains for Atlantic Blue Shark
WO-team Wild Ocean Team
Published On November 28, 2023
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Earlier this month, Wild Oceans joined colleagues including SharkProject to ask the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT or Commission) to reduce the catch of North Atlantic and South Atlantic blue shark and task their scientists with developing long term options for managing blue shark. ICCAT took our advice and adopted new recommendations on total allowable catch and quota allocation for both the northern stock (30,000 mt) and southern stock (27,700 mt). While the limits don’t reach the level of precaution we asked for, this is a step in the right direction and acknowledges the importance of managing the blue shark fishery for conservation. ICCAT also tasked the SCRS with reporting back in two years “on the feasibility, cost, options and tentative roadmap for redeveloping an MSE framework (including inter alia [harvest control rule] with the associated limit, target and threshold reference points, etc.) for the management of this stock in the ICCAT Convention area.”

 Blue sharks are at high risk of overfishing in all oceans, primarily due to their significant overlap with industrial longline fisheries operations and their inherently lower reproductive rates compared to tunas and other target species. Over the last 50 years, the spawning biomass of both Atlantic stocks has nearly halved. While tuna stocks and many other species are now subject to comprehensive management procedures, similar measures have not yet been initiated for commercially exploited blue sharks despite their economic and ecological importance. The absence of comprehensive management procedures threatens the long-term sustainability for fishing and for maintaining populations at levels to perform their vital role in marine ecosystems.

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