Environmental Initiatives

Media Inquiries

If you are a journalist and would like additional information, please visit the Media Contacts page.

Media Contacts

Subscribe to News Feeds

Pew offers news delivered to your desktop via RSS feed. Subscribing is easy. To learn more or get started, follow the link below.

Subscribe to News Feeds

For The Record

When Pew’s work is questioned or criticized we respond through letters to the editor or op-eds.

Read Pew's Responses

Sharks on a Collision Course

Other Resource

CONTACT:

Joanna Benn, 202.247.5823 
Rachel Brittin, 202.540.6312

Report reveals global decline, inadequate protection as UN fisheries meeting nears

Read the report:

shrk-cofi-report-150-lw

A new analysis, “Navigating Global Shark Conservation: Current Measures and Gaps,” the first global compendium of shark conservation and management measures, notes that although 55 percent of sharks that have enough data available to assess them (150 species) are threatened or near threatened with extinction, current shark management is woefully inadequate. The review is being released as most of the more than 190 members of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) convene in Rome for the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) meeting this month.

The summary also details the top 15 countries and fishing entities supplying shark fins to Hong Kong, the world’s largest fin market and responsible for approximately half of this global trade. One agenda item at the session July 9 to 13 is a review of the International Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks, which countries first committed to implement more than 10 years ago.

Demand and catch

Shark fishing globally is driven largely by the demand for fins for soup. According to trade data from Hong Kong’s Census and Statistics Department, 83 countries or territories supplied more than 10.3 million kilograms (22.7 million pounds) of shark fin products to Hong Kong in 2011.

ip-hong-kong-776-lw

Due to poor reporting and underreporting of shark catches, it is not known how many sharks are being caught globally. However, scientists estimate that the actual catch is likely to be three or four times higher than official FAO statistics.

Lack of protection

Shark bycatchThe review of 211 places where sharks are caught includes coastal countries, territories, and political entities. “Navigating Global Shark Conservation” maps out an inadequate patchwork of varying measures at the domestic, regional, and international levels for trade regulation or shark protection. Only about one-third of all countries ban the wasteful practice of finning, and few have protections for individual shark species—even those that are threatened or endangered with extinction.

The review also concludes that protections at the regional and international levels are totally inadequate. Most regional fisheries management organizations, which are responsible for management of many regional fisheries, protect few or no shark species, and only three species of sharks are allowed any protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The loss of sharks and the major declines in their populations are likely to cause irreversible damage to ocean ecosystems. Healthy and biologically diverse shark populations play an important role in maintaining the marine environment and, importantly, regulate the variety and abundance of species below them in the food web, including commercially important fish.

Sharks as part of a healthy ocean and sustainable fisheries

The Pew Environment Group believes that in the absence of sufficient conservation and management measures, fishing for at-risk shark species should be urgently reconsidered, including prohibitions on fishing of endangered species and adoption of international trade regulations for shark fins of vulnerable species. At COFI, Pew is also advocating for:

  • better measures and quotes to prevent the further decline of tuna and other economically important fish;
  • improvements in several fishing gears that continue to threaten the health of ecosystems throughout the ocean;
  • consideration by States of the role of forage fish (low-trophic-level fish) as prey for larger fish and other marine predators when making management decisions; and
  • stronger measures to crack down on illegal fishing.
 

Related News and Resources

  • Protecting the High Seas From Peril

    • Other Resource
    • Apr 01, 2014
    All the activity in the open ocean raises questions about who is monitoring and managing the ocean’s long-term health. As of now, the job is vacant, which is why delegates from around the world are at the United Nations in New York City this week.

    More

  • Climate Change Taking Toll on the Ocean

    • Other Resource
    • Mar 31, 2014
    A United Nations panel released its latest assessment of the impact of climate change on the world’s environment, focusing on issues such as food supply and economic security.

    More

  • Pew Comments on Amendment 28 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan

    • Other Resource
    • Mar 25, 2014
    On March 25, 2014, Chad W. Hanson of The Pew Charitable Trusts wrote a letter to Doug Boyd, Chairman of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, regarding Amendment 28 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan [Red Snapper Allocation].

    More

  • Pew le otorga al científico Hoyt Peckham la beca de investigación 2014 en conservación de recursos marinos

    • Press Release
    • Mar 12, 2014
    El Dr. Hoyt Peckham, un pionero en la incentivación de la pesca artesanal para promover el manejo de los recursos marinos con sede en La Paz, México, ha recibido una beca de investigación Pew 2014 en la conservación de dichos recursos marinos para ampliar su trabajo en la incentivación de la pesca sostenible a lo largo de la costa del noroeste de México a otras comunidades de la región y a nivel mundial. Peckham está trabajando con los pescadores locales y sus cooperativas para restablecer el valor de sus pesquerías, reforzando sus prácticas de sostenibilidad mediante el aumento de la demanda de sus mariscos y sus pescados.

    More

  • Pew Awards Author Paul Greenberg the 2014 Fellowship in Marine Conservation

    • Press Release
    • Mar 12, 2014
    Paul Greenberg—an award-winning journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food—has been awarded a 2014 Pew fellowship in marine conservation to prepare a book focusing on the human demand for Omega 3 fatty acids found in seafood and its impact on the sustainability of the world’s oceans.

    More

  • Pew le otorga al científico chileno Stefan Gelcich la beca de investigación 2014 en conservación de recursos marinos

    • Press Release
    • Mar 12, 2014
    Se ha reconocido al Dr. Stefan Gelcich, profesor adjunto de la Pontifica Universidad Católica de Chile con una beca de investigación Pew 2014 para la conservación de recursos marinos en un nuevo proyecto que examinará los incentivos sociales, económicos y ecológicos que permitan desarrollar zonas de protección, en conjunto con pescadores artesanales, a lo largo de la costa chilena. Este científico estudiará la integración de áreas marinas protegidas y pesquerías con derechos de uso territorial, como una estrategia para la conservación a largo plazo de los recursos oceánicos y su sostenibilidad.

    More

  • Pew Awards Shark Scientist Demian Chapman the 2014 Fellowship in Marine Conservation

    • Press Release
    • Mar 12, 2014
    Demian Chapman, Ph.D., a scientist with Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, has been awarded a 2014 Pew fellowship in marine conservation for a new research project to determine how recently enacted international regulations affect the trade in the fins of protected shark species. Sharks have been heavily fished to supply the international fin trade, depriving marine ecosystems of some of their most important top predators and endangering species dependent on them.

    More

  • Pew Awards Malaysian Mammal Scientist the 2014 Fellowship in Marine Conservation

    • Press Release
    • Mar 12, 2014
    Louisa Shobhini Ponnampalam, Ph.D., a scientist with the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and co-founder of grassroots NGO, The MareCet Research Organization, has been awarded a 2014 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation to conduct new research on the country’s population of dugongs, a large coastal marine mammal that resembles the manatee.

    More

  • Pew on the Road: Visiting Fishing Communities in the Southeast

    • Other Resource
    • Mar 07, 2014
    In just the past two months, Pew staff hit the road to talk with commercial fishermen and their families at a seafood festival, meet with anglers at a boat show, learn about the latest developments in marine science at a fisheries science conference, and film important underwater locations in the U.S. Caribbean.

    More

  • Speak Up for Emperor Penguins

    • Other Resource
    • Mar 03, 2014
    The emperor penguin colony made famous in the Academy Award-winning documentary “March of the Penguins” faces extinction because of climate change.

    More

  • Save the Boreal, Save the Caribou

    • Other Resource
    • Mar 03, 2014
    For millennia, the people who live in the far reaches of North America’s boreal forest have relied on woodland caribou for their survival. Now, the tables have turned.

    More

  • Engineering Pacific Bluefin's Comeback

    • Other Resource
    • Mar 03, 2014
    Pacific bluefin could make a relatively quick comeback from unsustainable fishing practices. They just need a bit of practical help.

    More

  • Dispatch From Fiji: Putting New Shark Protections to Work

    • Other Resource
    • Feb 27, 2014
    The listings in Appendix II of CITES for porbeagle sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, three species of hammerhead sharks, and two species of manta rays mandate that all international trade in these species must be legal and sustainable.

    More

  • Oregon: One Last Piece of the Puzzle

    • Other Resource
    • Feb 24, 2014
    California and Washington conserve forage fish in state waters for the sake of the ecosystem. Action by Oregon state leaders is the last piece of the puzzle.

    More

  • Technology for Fisheries Monitoring and Surveillance

    • Other Resource
    • Feb 20, 2014
    Monitoring and surveillance of fisheries is a complex and challenging problem. Traditionally, ships and aircraft have been the mainstay of surveillance efforts, however, the use of satellites and other technologies by fisheries enforcement officials has increased in recent years.

    More

See more...

X
Sign In

Member Sign In

Forgot Password?
Submit Not a Member? Join!
X

Forgot Password?

Send Password Not a Member? Join!
X

Change Password

X
(All Fields are required)
Send Message
Share this on: