Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"(Shark) sanctuaries...are effective"

Workshop attendees hailed from several countries including Australia, Colombia, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Samoa.
Late last year a grouping of shark enthusiasts working in various fields of tourism, conservation, government, and science met to discuss the status of shark conservation.  In their meetings they agreed that overfishing is driving the decline of shark populations.  In fact, Worm et al 2013 showed us that we are fishing them twice as fast as they can reproduce.

It looks like the only policy recommendation they could come to agreement on is that shark sanctuaries are an effective tool, but that recommendation came with a lot of caveats.  The full report is online.  Here's is what they had to say about sanctuaries:
Sanctuaries: Effective tools, as long as…
Among the major topics at the workshop, specialists gave close consideration to the current process based on setting up large zones where sharks are protected. French Polynesia banned shark fishing in 2006 (except for the mako fishery, which was only banned in 2012) inside its exclusive economic zone. Palau and New Caledonia have recently set up the same type of shark protection zone. But above and beyond these decisions, which are widely covered by the media, how effective are they in protecting sharks? This question is all the more relevant when we consider that tuna fishing continues to take place within those zones, with its bycatch that includes sharks. Even though bycatch sharks may not be kept onboard, catch-related mortality rates are high. Workshop participants agreed that although sanctuaries are not a miracle solution, they are effective, particularly if they include an efficient fisheries control system and shark population monitoring.

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