2008 Management Resolutions

Resolution Regarding European Shark Conservation
American Elasmobranch Society
July 2008
Montreal, Quebec

Whereas the European Union is developing a Community Action Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks pursuant to the FAO International Plan of Action;

Whereas EU Member States include major shark fishing nations, contribute significantly to global trade in shark fins, and support fishing vessels that operate all over the world;

Whereas Europe's regional percentage of shark and ray species categorized by the IUCN as Threatened is the highest in the world to date;

Whereas the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has issued scientific advice to end fishing for various depleted deepwater sharks, white skate (Raja alba), porbeagles (Lamna nasus), spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias), undulate ray (Raja undulata), common skate (Dipturus batis) and angel sharks (Squatina squatina), and has recommended limiting catches of other demersal sharks and rays;

Whereas the EU has prohibited take of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) and basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus), and established catch limits for only spiny dogfish, porbeagle, deepwater sharks, and North Sea skates and rays;

Whereas shark scientists at a 2006 technical workshop reviewed the available data regarding the EU finning ban and associated shark fisheries, and recommended improving the effectiveness of the finning ban by replacing the ratio with a requirement that sharks be landed with fins attached;

Whereas EU, Canadian, and US vessels often fish the same populations of highly migratory North Atlantic sharks;

Whereas the current EU finning regulation allows shark fins and carcasses to be landed in separate ports under the highest fin-to-carcass in the world, thereby seriously undermining the ban's effectiveness;

Therefore be it resolved that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the European Commission to propose 2009 shark and ray fishing limits that are in line with ICES advice and produce by the end of the year a Community Plan of Action for sharks commits to science-based catch limits, protection for species classified by IUCN as Endangered and Critically Endangered, and a requirement that sharks be landed with their fins attached.

Resolution Regarding Sharks at ICCAT
American Elasmobranch Society
July 2008
Montreal, Quebec

Whereas the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is capable of instituting restrictions on catches of Atlantic pelagic sharks;

Whereas shark scientists from ICCAT Parties will join those from the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) to update population assessments for shortfin mako (Isurus Oxyrinchus) and blue sharks (Prionace glauca) and to conduct rapid status assessments for up to seven additional pelagic shark species, including the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus);

Whereas ICES and Canadian scientists have already reported serious declines in North Atlantic porbeagle biomass, ICES scientists have recommended an end to Northeast Atlantic porbeagle fishing, and Canadian scientists have estimated the recovery time for Northwest Atlantic porbeagles at up to 100 years;

Whereas; ICCAT scientists have already concluded that North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks are likely overfished and a reduction in fishing mortality on this population is necessary to improve this status;

Whereas ICCAT Parties adopted a 2007 binding recommendation to reduce fishing mortality on North Atlantic shortfin mako and porbeagle sharks which exempts countries with peer-reviewed stock assessments (not science based management measures) and fails to mandate specific fishing limits; and

Whereas shark scientists at a 2006 technical workshop examining shark fin removal issues concluded that requiring sharks be landed with their fins attached is the most effective method to ban finning and also facilitates the collection of species-specific data collection which is vital for assessments;

Therefore Be It Resolved that the American Elasmobranch Society urges Parties to ICCAT to adopt a 2008 Recommendation that requires sharks be landed with their fins attached, limits shark catches in line with the scientific advice developed in September 2008, and is binding on all ICCAT Parties.

Resolution Regarding Atlantic States Shark Management
American Elasmobranch Society
July 2008
Montreal, Quebec

Whereas the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) will debate and vote on final measures of their interstate management plan for Atlantic sharks in August 2008;

Whereas several Atlantic states lack shark fishing regulations or have shark regulations that are less stringent than federal limits, and thereby may be undermining the effectiveness of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) federal Atlantic shark fishery management plan;

Whereas the mating, pupping, and nursery grounds for most Atlantic coastal shark species, including the seriously overfished sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus), occur in Atlantic state waters (within three miles from shore);

Whereas targeted fisheries for smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis) are developing and no framework for management is in place;

Whereas the ASMFC already regulates catches of spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias), but state quotas in recent years have greatly exceeded scientific advice and have caused significant quota overages for this rebuilding population; and

Whereas NMFS has this week prohibited the removal of shark fins at sea to aid enforcement of the finning ban and enhance collection of species-specific catch data;

Therefore be it resolved that the American Elasmobranch Society (AES) urges the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to adopt in August 2008 a final interstate shark plan that includes a May 15-July 15 seasonal Mid-Atlantic coastal shark fishery closure to protect pregnant sandbar sharks, ensures Atlantic state shark fishing rules (including the finning ban) are at least as stringent as those for federal waters, and establishes management for smooth dogfish; the AES further urges the ASMFC to set all Atlantic state shark fishing quotas, including those for spiny dogfish, in line with scientific advice from the relevant Technical Committee.

Resolution Regarding the U.S. Shark Finning Ban
American Elasmobranch Society
July 2008
Montreal, Quebec

Whereas finning -- the practice of slicing off a shark's fins and discarding the body at sea -- is wasteful, often contributes to excessive shark mortality, and has been banned in all United States (U.S.) waters;

Whereas the U.S. House of Representatives has passed, by an overwhelming majority, the Shark Conservation Act of 2008, which would require that sharks from U.S. fisheries are landed with their fins naturally attached, apply the finning measures to vessels other than fishing vessels, establish a process for encouraging comparable shark conservation programs in other countries, and allow for the ultimate sanction of countries that do not;

Whereas a requirement for sharks to be landed with their fins naturally attached greatly simplifies enforcement of the shark finning ban and enhances collection of species-specific data needed for shark population assessment;

Whereas the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) now requires that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached for fisheries of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, but not for those of the U.S. Pacific;

Whereas the ability to block imports into the U.S. of shark and other seafood products from nations whose standards for shark conservation are not comparable to the U.S. would ensure a level playing field for U.S. fishermen and provide an important tool for international shark conservation;

Whereas current application of the finning legislation to only "fishing vessels" has prevented the sanctioning of chartered, transport vessels carrying shark fins without corresponding carcasses; and

Whereas legislation identical to the House bill has been introduced in the United States Senate and yet little time remains before adjournment of the 110th Congress;

Therefore Be It Resolved that the American Elasmobranch Society respectfully requests that the United States Senate promptly pass the shark conservation bill adopted by the House of Representatives and send it to the President at the earliest opportunity.

Resolution Regarding U.S. Smalltooth Sawfish Recovery
American Elasmobranch Society
July 2008
Montreal, Quebec

Whereas the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) was listed as "endangered" under the United States (U.S.) Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2003;

Whereas, pursuant to this listing, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service's Smalltooth Sawfish Recovery Team (SSRT) completed a draft recovery plan for the U.S. population of smalltooth sawfish in August 2006;

Whereas the SSRT addressed comments and made final edits to the draft recovery plan in March 2008;

Whereas missed deadlines and delays associated with the ESA listing of smalltooth sawfish have already postponed the recovery of the species; and

Whereas action toward research, outreach and conservation objectives included in the plan is urgently needed to prevent further decline and ensure recovery of this critically endangered species;

Therefore Be It Resolved that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the National Marine Fisheries Service to finalize, publish and begin implementation of the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) recovery plan, as a matter of high priority.

Resolution Regarding Northwest Atlantic Skates
American Elasmobranch Society
July 2008
Montreal, Quebec

Whereas the New England Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) are developing an amendment to their skate fishery management plan (FMP);

Whereas NMFS reported in June 2008 that the thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata) 2005-2007 autumn average biomass index (0.42 kg/tow) is well below the biomass threshold reference point (2.20 kg/tow) and that the thorny skate population is again experiencing overfishing, despite a 2003 prohibition on landings;

Whereas the IUCN Shark Specialist Group has proposed Northwest Atlantic thorny skate population as Threatened with extinction;

Whereas the winter skate (Leucoraja ocellata) population remains overfished after biomass declines of nearly 50% since FMP implementation;

Whereas NMFS announced in June 2008 that the smooth skate (Malacoraja senta) population is now also overfished;

Whereas poor identification and insufficient monitoring continue to hamper collection of sorely needed species-specific data on skate catches;

Whereas the lack of data collected on skate catches and bycatch hinders more precise assessments, rebuilding estimates, and effective management; and

Whereas the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) has established an international quota for thorny skate, but at a level that exceeds the advice of NAFO scientists;

Therefore Be It Resolved that the American Elasmobranch Society (AES) encourages the New England Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service to ensure that the Northeast skate management plan includes hard, total allowable catches (TACs) with accountability measures to prevent TAC overages, significant reductions in possession limits for the wing and bait fisheries, a science-based quota for the bait fishery, time/area closures, and means to improve

compliance with species-specific data collection requirements and prohibitions on take of barndoor, thorny, and smooth skates; AES further urges NMFS to continue to work for a reduction in the NAFO skate quota to no more than the level advised by the NAFO Scientific Council.