International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Blonde Ray © Sally Sharrock.

IUCN Red List Logo.The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network. It supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world and brings governments, non-government organisations, United Nations agencies, companies and local communities together to develop and implement policy, laws and best practice. The IUCN is made up of more than 1,000 organisations, as well as 10,000 individual scientists and experts structured into six Commissions.

The Species Survival Commission (SSC) is comprised of 8,000 scientists, field researchers, government officials and conservation leaders from around the world. They work together to achieve the vision of 'a world that values and conserves present levels of biodiversity'. The SSC works through Specialist Groups which focus on particular plants, animals and issues.

The Shark Specialist Group (SSG) was established by the SSC to focus on and assess the extinction risk of the world’s cartilaginous fish species. Each assessment for the extinction risk of a species is based on their ecology, life history, distribution, habitat, population trends, threats and conservation measures.

The SSC provide the best available information critical to the development of conservation tools such as the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Red List is the most comprehensive approach used for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species. Species are classified into groups according to criteria such as rate of decline, population size and geographic distribution. Overall, this process determines the risk of extinction to a species.

To find out more about the status of different shark species found in the Northeast Atlantic, click on the links below. Where possible, the status of chondrichthyan species used in this section is based on a regional assessment in the Northeast Atlantic, but where this information isn’t available the Global status of the species has been used instead. For example, the Porbeagle Shark (Lamna nasus), has a global status of Vulnerable, however, is listed as Critically Endangered in the Northeast Atlantic.

IUCN Red List Status Categories:

IUCN Red List - Extinct (EX) logo. ➤ Extinct (EX) - No known individuals remaining.
IUCN Red List - Extinct in the Wild (EW) logo. ➤ Extinct in the Wild (EW) - Known only to survive in captivity, or as a naturalized population outside its historic range.
IUCN Red List - Critically Endangered (CR) logo. Critically Endangered (CR) - Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
IUCN Red List - Endangered (EN) logo. Endangered (EN) - High risk of extinction in the wild.
IUCN Red List - Vulnerable (VU) logo. Vulnerable (VU) - High risk of endangerment in the wild.
IUCN Red List - Near Threatened (NT) logo. Near Threatened (NT) - Likely to become endangered in the near future.
IUCN Red List - Least Concern (LC) logo. Least Concern (LC) - Lowest risk and doesn’t qualify for a more at risk category. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.
IUCN Red List - Data Deficient (DD) logo. Data Deficient (DD) - Not enough data to make an assessment of its risk of extinction.
IUCN Red List - Not Evaluated (NE) logo. ➤ Not Evaluated (NE) - Has not yet been evaluated against the criteria.

Related Links:

IUCN Paper - Extinction risk and conservation of the world’s sharks and rays

IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (version 3.1)

See the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (version 3.1) for further details.

IUCN Status Report for Northeast Atlantic Sharks (pdf)

IUCN Status Report for Mediterranean Sharks (pdf)