Tuesday, July 12, 2011

First Regional Protections for Sharks in Eastern Pacific Ocean

Photo: Christophe Jurdan
Oceanic whitetips (Carcharhinus longimanus) were accorded protections by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) at their recently completed meeting in La Jolla, California.  They are the first shark species to receive regional protections in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

IATTC is a regional fisheries managment organization comprised of members representing fishing nations.  They are responsible for managing tuna fisheries in the eastern Pacific Ocean across an area of about 26 million square miles. 

IATTC member nations agreed that all oceanic whitetips must be released when they are captured in tuna-fishing nets and on longlines, a type of fishing gear that sets hooks underwater on a single "long-line" up to 30 miles long.

These protections are a step in the right direction and mimic similar protections given to oceanic whitetips in the Atlantic by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas in November 2010.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species assesses the oceanic whitetip as Vulnerable to extinction.  Furthermore, they are assessed as Critically Endangered in the Northwest and Western Central Atlantic.  The declines are attributed to the ever rising demand for shark fin soup.

Shark Defenders congratulates Japan and the European Union for sponsoring the protections.

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