ICCAT 2019: Goods and bad news for sharks
The XX ICCAT (International Commission of Conservation of Atlantic Tuna) meeting have caused mixed feelings because of the resolution about de different proposals related to sharks preservation.
On the positive side, this year the ICCAT has been the first Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMOs) in the world which has dictated a catch limit for blue sharks (Prionace glauca). Shortly, catch limit for other species will be established according to scientific recommendations, not only for north Atlantic but also south populations. Other RFMOs had established catch prohibition before, but this is the first time it is established an international catch limit for a pelagic shark specie.
Regarding the negative side, surprisingly, the European Union and the United States have been the main obstacles in order to approve a catch limit proposal for the critically endangered species of shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrhinchus), in spite of the concerning warnings of the ICCAT Scientific Committee. The Scientific Committee data have clearly shown that the total prohibition of fish catching would not stop the fall in population until 2035, and this population would have only a 54% chance of recovery until 2045. The current situation is bad. If the catch prohibition is not established, it could affect the population so much that they would not recover even within 50 years. Unfortunately, the pressure of fishing industry has been stronger than common sense and Europe and the United States have blocked this catch prohibition proposal that even countries like China or Japan were supporting it. However, the European Union, who has been pushing to get shark preservation improvements as well as proposing the incorporation of the species in the appendix II of CITES, has adopted an incomprehensible turnaround which endangers the specie.
The other negative point has been the refusal of the flapping regulation proposal through fins-attached policy. This proposal has obtained more support over the years (33 of 47 countries this year) but it has been once again blocked by Japan and China, even being a minority, because the ICCAT members prefer common consensus in spite of voting, so this fact stops the progress of conservation measures. It seems it has been approved a resolution that would improve this situation in the future.