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The Shark Alliance is a not-for-profit coalition of non-governmental organizations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving European fishing policy. Because of the influence of Europe in global fisheries and the importance of sharks in ocean ecosystems, these efforts have the potential to enhance the health of the marine environment in Europe and around the world.
The Shark Trust is a founding member of this coalition, which formed in 2006.
The mission of the Shark Alliance is two-fold:
1)To close loopholes in European policy regarding the wasteful and unsustainable practice of shark finning.
2)To secure responsible, science-based shark fishing limits for long-term sustainability and ecosystem health.
Sharks at risk
Sharks have evolved over 400 million years and play a critical role in ocean ecosystems. In common with land predators such as lions and wolves, sharks keep other populations in check and help maintain the balance of life in the sea.
Today, primarily because of over-fishing, sharks are among the oceans’ most threatened species. Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year, either intentionally or as by-catch in commercial and recreational fisheries.
Depleting the populations of top predators poses a serious threat to the balance of an ecosystem and there is grave concern for the impact, which the loss of shark numbers is having on the oceans.
Shark finning is the wasteful practice of slicing off a shark’s fins for an elite food market and discarding the body at sea. It is a major factor in the unsustainable mortality of vulnerable shark populations. Despite being a leader in environmental and shark fisheries, conservation issues, the EU’s Finning Regulation is inadequate, fraught with loopholes and poses a serious threat to shark populations globally. Find out more about shark finning.
For centuries sharks have been sought for their meat, hides, liver oil, fins and teeth. Today, although their rich liver oil continues to be a reason to fish for sharks in European waters, most European shark fisheries are driven by a commercial demand for meat and fins.
Contrary to popular belief, Europe plays a major role in the global catch, export and import of sharks, in both home and distant waters. Europe includes some of the most important shark fishing nations in the world. From 1990 to 2003, global reported catch of sharks increased by 22%, 80% of which was taken by 20 countries (including Spain, Portugal, the UK and France). Over the same period, Spain’s share of the global shark catch jumped from 2% to 7.2%. In 1997, Spain reported the world’s largest catch of sharks at nearly 100,000 metric tons.
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