Saving sharks | WWF

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SAVING SHARKS

© Ioannis Giovos

Sharks are caught as bycatch in most of the Mediterranean fisheries. The impact on their populations is unfortunately hampered by the absence of monitoring programs in the majority of Mediterranean countries.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Sharks are indicators of ocean health, as they balance the food web and the functioning of marine ecosystems; their decline entails marked ecological consequences for marine communities.

The Mediterranean Sea is considered as one of the most dangerous places for sharks and rays in the world. They are amongst the worst affected by overfishing, with the latest IUCN assessment finding that more than 50% of all species were threatened with extinction. The absence of proper monitoring programs is leading to a lack of data of the impacts fisheries have on them.

Specifically, both sides of the Southern Adriatic Sea hosts nursery and spawning areas for many shark species. And yet, the knowledge on shark bycatch occurrence is almost absent and there are indications of illegal fishing using prohibited gear and/or catching protected species, leading to a likelihood of seafood fraud and mislabeling to avoid detection.

READ OUR NEW REPORT ON SHARKS

Did you know?

Italy is one of the world’s largest consumer markets of shark meat, often mislabeled as swordfish. Most consumed domestic sharks are blue shark and porbeagle, both critically endangered.

© Simone Niedermueller / WWF

WHAT WE’RE DOING

We want to implement electronic monitoring systems as they are a transparent approach to monitor accurate data on fishing trips, target species and bycatch. This can ensure full transparency and traceability of the products along the market supply chain.

WWF’s pilot project with sharks will activate key stakeholders in the region to support the transformation of the Southern Adriatic longline fleet in a best practice example of bycatch reduction and management, where fishermen and port authorities are fully involved.

This best practice example, together with key information on seafood fraud and illegal marketing of protected species, will be used to impulse the implementation of conservation measures in Italy and Albania on a wider scale and raise civil society awareness on the critical status of sharks in the Mediterranean.

Being the first in the Mediterranean

We want to tag released blue sharks to quantify post release survival rates and assess the real impact of bycatch.

© Lapinski Ailerons