2002 Management Resolutions

NW Atlantic Skates
July 2002

WHEREAS the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has conducted peer reviewed assessments and determined several stocks of NW Atlantic skates to be overfished, thereby prompting management under the Sustainable Fisheries Act;

WHEREAS a review in the journal of the American Fisheries Society has listed both barndoor (Dipturus laevis) and thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata) in this region as “vulnerable,” meaning that they are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered with extinction in the near future;

WHEREAS skate landings in the Northeast US are near record high levels and the level of skate bycatch has been estimated at two to three times that of landings;

WHEREAS there are currently no limits on skate landings or skate bycatch in the US Northwest Atlantic;

WHEREAS the lack of data collected on skate catches and bycatch stands to hinder more precise assessments, rebuilding estimates, and effective management;

WHEREAS the New England Fishery Management Council has yet to submit the Skate fishery management plan that was due under the law in March 2001;

WHEREAS the Council’s delayed Draft FMP was so seriously flawed in terms of rebuilding measures that NMFS recently prevented its release for public hearing;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Elasmobranch Society calls upon the National Marine Fisheries Service to immediately take over Northwest Atlantic skate management and implement a Secretarial skate fishery management plan that dramatically improves skate data collection, is consistent with the bycatch and overfishing provisions of the Sustainable Fisheries Act and ensures timely rebuilding of overfished skate species.

(S. Ha, D. Ha APPROVED, Cortes & Pratt abstain)

Smalltooth Sawfish
July 2002

WHEREAS smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) are among the most endangered elasmobranchs in the world;

WHEREAS the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has completed a comprehensive status review of smalltooth sawfish in US waters and has determined that a distinct segment of this population is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range;

WHEREAS the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed listing the smalltooth sawfish as “endangered” under the United States Endangered Species Act in April 2001 and a final decision on this proposal was due in April 2002;

WHEREAS there are no federal protective measures for sawfish and existing state measures are inadequate to rebuild the smalltooth sawfish population;

WHEREAS listing under the ESA would prompt not only prohibition on possession but important investigation into habitat requirements and bycatch of sawfish as well as much needed public awareness of the species’ population status;

WHEREAS there have been significant delays in the ESA review and listing process since the petition to list was filed in 1999; and

WHEREAS the U.S. has previously acknowledged the precarious status of the species by proposing its listing under the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the US National Marine Fisheries Service to finalize their overdue proposal to list and protect the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) under the Endangered Species Act as a matter of priority.

(S. Ha, D. Ha APPROVED; Cortes & Pratt abstain)

Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization
July 2002

WHEREAS the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) is responsible for international management of fish stocks (other than highly migratory species and sedentary species of the continental shelf) in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean;

WHEREAS directed fisheries for thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata) as well as bycatch of exceptionally vulnerable deepwater sharks such as black dogfish (Centroscyllium fabricii) occur unregulated in the NAFO Regulatory Area;

WHEREAS the NAFO Scientific Council reported a decline in thorny skate abundance and biomass in the late 1980s and early 1990s;

WHEREAS NAFO has recognized the vulnerability and special management needs of elasmobranchs by hosting an upcoming symposium on elasmobranch sustainable use and biodiversity conservation;

WHEREAS the United States is becoming increasingly active in NAFO policy development since ratifying the Convention in 1995;

WHEREAS U.S. scientists have played a leadership role within the NAFO Scientific Council in promoting assessment of elasmobranch populations as well as the practical application of the precautionary approach;

WHEREAS the U.S. NAFO Commissioners have previously voiced concern over the need to consider NAFO skate quotas;

WHEREAS the upcoming scientific symposium presents a rare opportunity to highlight elasmobranch conservation needs for fishery managers and policy makers from all 18 NAFO contracting Parties;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce as well as U.S. NAFO Commissioners at the 2002 NAFO annual meeting to reinvigorate efforts to establish NAFO skate quotas as well as initiatives to minimize bycatch of elasmobranch species found in NAFO waters.

(S. Ha, Henningsen APPROVED)

Galapagos Islands
July 2002

WHEREAS the Galapagos Islands are among the greatest biological treasures of the world, with high biodiversity, and the birthplace of evolutionary theory,

WHEREAS the unique resources of the Galapagos Islands have been recognized as a World Heritage Site,

WHEREAS the Galapagos Marine Resources Reserve is home to at least 27 species of sharks and rays,

WHEREAS most sharks and rays are of low productivity and therefore even modest fishing pressure can quickly deplete or wipe out insular shark populations,

WHEREAS bycatch on longline fishing gear is a major source of mortality for sharks and rays with bycatch often exceeding the targeted species catch,

WHEREAS directed fishing for sharks is currently prohibited in the Galapagos Marine Resources Reserve to protect the these vulnerable resources,

WHEREAS the sharks of the Galapagos Islands currently provide a significant and renewable source of income to Ecuador and the local communities through dive tourism,

WHEREAS the growing demand for shark fins has led to the illegal fishing for sharks within the Reserve,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the government of Ecuador to maintain the prohibition against commercial fishing for tunas and other pelagic fishes in Galapagos Marine Resources Reserve.

(S. Ha, Goldman APPROVED)

July 2002

WHEREAS sharks and rays are among the most vulnerable fishery resources in the world,

WHEREAS their low productivity limits the capacity of shark and ray populations to sustain commercial exploitation without careful fisheries management,

WHEREAS as many as 125 nations fish for or trade in shark products,

WHEREAS there is no management for shark fisheries in international waters,

WHEREAS the Food and Agriculture Organization’s International Plan of Action -Sharks (IPOA) is strictly voluntary and therefore cannot ensure the conservation of vulnerable elasmobranch resources,

WHEREAS the IPOA directed its member nations to develop a National Plan of Action (NPOA) assessing their shark fisheries and conservation needs by February 2001,

WHEREAS to date only two countries have finalized their NPOAs, and only a handful more have a Plan in draft,

WHEREAS the growing demand for and international trade in shark fins is the driving force behind most commercial shark fisheries around the world,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Elasmobranch Society urges FAO to provide resources to and strongly encourage member nations to develop and implement their NPOA for elasmobranchs. The American Elasmobranch Society also urges CITES to take action to ensure that international trade in sharks and rays is sustainable and does not threaten the functional existence of these vulnerable and overexploited resources.

(S. Ha, Summers APPROVED)