The commission proposed an EU action plan for the conservation of sharks and related species on Thursday (5 February), as rising European catches threaten their survival, but campaign groups have described the proposals as more of a “political obligation” than a real commitment to protecting sharks.
“The latest information we have confirms that human beings are a far bigger threat to sharks than sharks ever were to us,” said EU fisheries commissioner Joe Borg speaking at a press conference in Brussels.
The plan includes a number of proposals to limit shark fishing where populations are under threat and improve information gathering to aid future policy decisions.
It covers sharks, skate and ray species and, if agreed to by the European Parliament and EU member states, would operate in all areas where the EU fleet currently fishes, including in waters beyond those belonging to the bloc.
Shark species are particularly vulnerable to overfishing due to their long gestation period. In the case of the spurdog – a species of dogfish shark – gestation is two years, the longest of any animal.
This means that populations may take decades to recover, if they recover at all