Sharks protected in the Mediterranean?
In the Mediterranean, there are 21 species of sharks and rays (elasmobranchs) that are protected under recommendation GFCM/36/2012/3 of the General Fisheries Commission of the Mediterranean (GFCM). This recommendation is aimed at protecting those species of sharks and rays that are listed in Annex II of the Protocol of the Barcelona Convention on specially protected areas and biological diversity in the Mediterranean. Under this binding rule for all GFCM member states, these species cannot be “retained on board, transhipped, landed, transferred, stored, sold or displayed or offered for sale”, but rather, “they must be released unharmed and alive to the extent possible “, and States must guarantee “high protection against fishing activities“.
The recent capture and sale of two specimens of white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), in Tunisia, represent a violation of Recommendation GFCM/36/2012/3, but what is more serious is that it once again highlights the ineffective application of this regulation in the Mediterranean.
Cases of landing of protected species of sharks and rays have been reported in Tunisia during the last decade but also in many other countries. Although the degree of non-compliance is higher in southern Mediterranean countries, largely due to social, political or economic problems, it should also be noted that there is non-compliance among the Mediterranean States of the European Union despite having the regulations transposed for all EU countries through Regulation (EU) 2015/2102.
The continuous trickle of protected species of elasmobranch into Mediterranean fish markets is, unfortunately, somewhat more common than would be desirable. Whether due to ignorance of the norm, picaresque, or necessity, what really matters is that the states are not doing everything they can to effectively implement the norm.
It is necessary to increase the training and awareness of fishermen and inspectors on protected species. It is necessary to support those countries that do not have resources or infrastructure for effective control of fisheries. It is necessary that all member countries of the GFCM Include Recommendation GFCM / 36/2012/3 in their national legislation and make the necessary resources for it to be effectively complied with.
You can read here the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and the Biological Biodiversity in the Mediterranean (for protected species see annex II).