Big Shark Pledge: Tackling the overfishing of oceanic sharks

With the ink still drying on the landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO launches its Big Shark Pledge campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.

Written by Oceanographic Staff
Photographs by Ocean Image Bank

Many shark species make their home on the high seas, the open ocean beyond national borders. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years. 

But there is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just recently, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign surrounding the Big Shark Pledge from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.

The Shark Trust‘s Big Shark Pledge seeks to act as a long-term collaborative and international effort that forges a pathway to rebuild populations of high seas sharks and rays. The ambitious campaign puts science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management and catalyses the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery. It wants to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet and the pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.

“While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of Conservation, Ali Hood. She continues: “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for blues and makos.”

Paul Cox, Shark Trust CEO, says of the Big Shark Pledge: “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.”

“By adding your voice we can build one of the biggest campaigning communities in the history of shark conservation. To put pressure on governments and fisheries. And make the positive changes required to safeguard these awesome sharks,” the Shark Trust’s website reads. Ultimately, the Big Shark Pledge will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery. 

The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.

Watch the campaign video here

And sign the pledge and find out more here

Written by Oceanographic Staff
Photographs by Ocean Image Bank

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