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EU Lands 13m Blue Sharks

In a twelve year period more than 13 million blue sharks were landed by EU fishing fleets

The Shark Trust has launched a campaign to control shark fisheries and has won the support of UK Fisheries Minister, George Eustice in calling for EU limits on the number of sharks being killed in the Atlantic.

Currently there are no limits on the amount of many species of shark such as the blue shark, the Atlantic smoothhound, shortfin mako, tope and catsharks that can be caught by EU fleets.

Shark fishing is big business in Europe, with the European fleet’s effort focused on the Atlantic Ocean, where eight EU Member States, including Spain, Portugal, France and the UK, are responsible for 99 per cent of EU shark landings

Shark Trust patron and wildlife presenter Steve Backshall said: 'My favourite shark encounter by far was with blue sharks, a species common to British waters. They are a glorious, slender, languidly moving beast, and yet, this may be an experience the next generation will not be able to share. I was horrified to learn that between 2000 and 2012 over half a million tonnes of blue shark were reported landed from the Atlantic by the EU fleet – this equates to approximately 13 million individual sharks. All caught with no limits.'

The Shark Trust’s No Limits? campaign warns that too many sharks are being caught without any restrictions, with reported landings continuing to increase: for example Atlantic smoothhound and blue shark landings by the EU fleet have each more than tripled between 2000 and 2010.  Without appropriate catch limits, or relevant management, it is feared we could see other shark species go the way of previous commercial targets including porbeagle, spiny dogfish, angelshark and common skate - species now listed as Critically Endangered in the Northeast Atlantic by the IUCN.

Over recent years the UK government has actively championed science-based conservation and management of sharks. 'It’s important to ensure we have the right conservation measures in place for vulnerable marine species and that all catches of sharks are sustainable,' said UK Fisheries Minister, George Eustice. 'I want to see appropriate catch limits established based on scientific evidence.”'

'Sharks will be caught in commercial fisheries, to a degree this is inevitable, but we can work to manage what is caught in a sustainable manner - sustainable for both shark populations and the associated coastal communities,' said Ali Hood, Director of Conservation at the Shark Trust. 'The No Limits? campaign presents a simple request to EU Member States: stand by the pledges you adopted five years ago within the EU Community Plan of Action for Sharks, and stop uncontrolled shark fishing now!' 

To sign a petition supporting the campaign click here

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