Responsible Fishing Practices for Sustainable Fisheries

International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks

1998 FAO

For centuries artisanal fishermen have conducted fishing for sharks sustainably in coastal waters, and some still do. However, during recent decades modern technology in combination with access to distant markets have caused an increase in effort and yield of shark catches, as well as an expansion of the areas fished.

There is concern over the increase of shark catches and the consequences which this has for the populations of some shark species in several areas of the world’s oceans. This is because sharks often have a close stock-recruitment relationship, long recovery times in response to over-fishing (low biological productivity because of late sexual maturity; few off-spring, albeit with low natural mortality) and complex spatial structures (size/sex segregation and seasonal migration).

The current state of knowledge of sharks and the practices employed in shark fisheries cause problems in the conservation and management of sharks due to lack of available catch, effort, landings and trade data, as well as limited information on the biological parameters of many species and their identification. In order to improve knowledge on the state of shark stocks and facilitate the collection of the necessary information, adequate funds are required for research and management.

The prevailing view is that it is necessary to better manage directed shark catches and certain multispecies fisheries in which sharks constitute a significant bycatch. In some cases the need for management may be urgent.

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