Environmental Initiatives

Our Goals

Working with government leaders, scientists, fisheries experts, diplomats, and even survivors of shark attacks, Pew works to highlight the plight of sharks from overfishing and to urge countries to take action to conserve them.

Protecting Sharks Globally

The Global Shark Conservation Campaign works within countries to raise awareness about the global decline of sharks, their importance to healthy marine ecosystems, and their benefit to local economies. The following countries have permanently protected the sharks that swim in their waters by closing their exclusive economic zones (EEZ) to commercial shark fishing—and have joined the call for other countries to establish shark sanctuaries in their waters:

... and on the High Seas

Sharks caught in high seas fisheries are among the ocean’s most vulnerable animals. There are few limits on the number of sharks that can be caught and almost no rules. As a result, more than half of the shark species caught in the open ocean are threatened or near threatened with extinction according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Pew works at the United Nations and at regional fisheries management organizations to advocate for science-based management of sharks, that all fishing nations adopt and implement management plans to ensure the recovery of depleted shark populations, and that they stop catching sharks that are threatened or near threatened with extinction.

Campaign Progress

  • United Nations to Scrutinize Neglected Action Plan for Shark Conservation Added: Feb. 1, 2011

    In February 2011, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on Fisheries (UN FAO COFI) agreed to examine the extent that the International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks) had been implemented. The lack of implementation was the focus of a report  that Pew issued with TRAFFIC in advance of COFI’s annual meeting.

  • Northern Marianas Moves Against Shark Fins Added: Jan. 28, 2011

    In January 2011, The Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands banned the possession, sale, trade, or distribution of shark fins, spurring discussion of similar legislation in Guam and further building momentum for shark conservation in the Pacific region

  • U.S. Congress Passes Shark Conservation Act Added: Dec. 20, 2010

    In December 2010, the U.S. Shark Conservation Act passed both the Senate and the House and was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011. This law bans shark finning in US waters, closes loopholes in the previous fishing law and allows the US to encourage shark conservation internationally.

  • Better Research Promised for Pacific Ocean Shark Fisheries Added: Dec. 1, 2010

    In December 2010, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission passed an improved research plan for better reporting of shark catches and monitoring of the data to track what species are being caught and whether their status is imperiled.

    • Oceanic Whitetip and Hammerhead Sharks Protected in the Atlantic Ocean Added: Nov. 27, 2010

      In November 2010, the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) adopted a ban on the retention of any oceanic whitetip sharks, a ban on the retention of any hammerhead sharks caught in ICCAT fisheries, and data collection requirements for shortfin mako sharks. These measures mark a good step forward for shark conservation in the Atlantic Ocean.

      • Honduran and Palauan Presidents Challenge the World to Save Sharks Added: Sep. 22, 2010

        In September 2010, Palauan President Toribiong and Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa signed an official declaration challenging world leaders to prohibit shark fishing in their countries’ waters (Honduras declared a full moratorium on shark fishing in February 2010). The presidents signed the declaration while in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly.

      • United Nations Commits to Stronger Shark Research and Better Shark Fin Bans Added: May. 1, 2010

        In May 2010, the United Nations Fish Stocks Review Conference final recommendations included  the need to collect species-specific data for shark species caught in both directed shark fisheries or as accidental catch in other fisheries, conducting biological assessments that drive conservation and management measures for these sharks, and strengthening enforcement of existing prohibitions on shark finning -- including requiring that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached (the most effective way of preventing shark finning).

        • Maldives Creates Indian Ocean Shark Sanctuary Added: Mar. 2, 2010

          In March 2010, the Maldives announced a ban on shark fishing in its entire exclusive economic zone, providing protection to sharks in 923,000 square kilometers of the Indian Ocean.

        • European Fisheries Protect Porbeagles, Spurdogs and Deep Sea Sharks Added: Dec. 16, 2009

          In December, 2009, as a result of the Shark Alliance’s advocacy efforts to ensure proper implementation of the CPOA, the European fishery for porbeagle, considered Critically Endangered in the Northeast Atlantic by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, was closed and science based fishing limits were adopted for spurdog and deep-sea sharks. In 2009, Spain adopted national legislation banning fishing for 11 species of hammerhead and thresher sharks.

        • Big Eye Thresher Sharks Protected in Atlantic Ocean Added: Nov. 15, 2009

          In November 2009 at the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) annual meeting, member countries agreed to ban the retention and landing of big eye thresher sharks in the Atlantic Ocean.

        • Palaun President Declares National Shark Sanctuary Added: Sep. 25, 2009

          In September 2009 at the United Nations General Assembly, Palauan President Johnson Toribiong declared the waters surrounding Palau as a national shark sanctuary. The declaration banned commercial shark fishing in an area equivalent to the size of France. In addition, President Toribiong called for a global moratorium on shark finning.

        • EU Commits to Action Plan for Shark Conservation Added: Feb. 5, 2009

          In February 2009, the Pew-led Shark Alliance coalition and its member groups played an instrumental role in pushing through the European Commission’s Community Plan of Action for sharks (CPOA), which includes commitments to strengthen the EU finning regulation, implement science-based fishing limits and protect endangered shark and ray species. 

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