2004 Management Resolutions

Resolution Regarding White Sharks and CITES
May 2004

WHEREAS White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) are slow growing and highly migratory fish; these factors combined with natural rarity in the marine environment (as apex predators) makes this species exceptionally vulnerable to overexploitation;

WHEREAS The IUCN (World Conservation Union) classified white sharks as “vulnerable” on the 2000 Red List of Threatened Species; developing regional assessments are expected to label some populations as “endangered” or even “critically endangered” later this year;

WHEREAS the fins, teeth and jaws of this highly sought species are exceptionally valuable and enter international trade as trophies and curios;

WHEREAS the U.S. is a major importer of white shark teeth and jaws and responsible for all of the five white shark recorded imports in 2002;

WHEREAS there are few national protections for white sharks and no restrictions for this migratory species imposed by Regional Fishery Management Organizations;

WHEREAS inclusion in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) would establish monitoring programs for trade in white shark parts and require Parties’ Scientific Authorities to demonstrate legal capture and no detriment to the population from trade before exporting white shark parts;

WHEREAS in April 2004, the Shark Working Group of the CITES Animals Committee reviewed the technical merits of Australia’s white shark listing proposal and most members agreed that the species appears to meet the criteria for inclusion in Appendix II.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the United States and other Parties to CITES to strongly support listing of white sharks in CITES Appendix II at the 13th Conference of the Parties in October 2004.

U.N. Ban on Shark Finning
May 2004

WHEREAS the high value of shark fins, sought for a traditional Asian soup creates an incentive for “finning” — slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding its carcass in the sea;

WHEREAS this wasteful practice remains a driving force for unsustainable shark mortality in a wide array of fisheries;

WHEREAS the United States led efforts in the fall of 2003 to secure a United Nations General Assembly (U.N.G.A.) Resolution that urges countries to consider measures to ensure the long-term sustainable use of sharks, including the banning of fisheries for shark fins;

WHEREAS the 2003 U.N.G.A. Resolution called for waste reduction and spotlights fin fisheries, but stops short of calling for a halt to finning of sharks taken incidentally in other fisheries;

WHEREAS little if any progress has been made under this Resolution or toward broader implementation of the U.N. International Plan of Action (IPOA) for Sharks;

WHEREAS it is estimated that trade in shark fins is growing by 5% per year;

WHEREAS the U.S. Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000, which banned the practice in federal waters, directs the U.S. to work towards international finning restrictions;

WHEREAS domestic finning bans in countries such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Oman and Palau are hampered by enforcement loopholes and could be enhanced by broader finning bans and stronger international cooperation.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce to build upon the previous U.N. Resolution by proposing and working to secure an international ban on shark finning at this fall’s meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

NAFO & Thorny Skates
May 2004

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) 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 a symposium on elasmobranch sustainable use and biodiversity conservation;

WHEREAS the National Marine Fisheries Service has prohibited possession of thorny skates in U.S. waters and have classified them as “species of concern;”

WHEREAS the NAFO Scientific Council will provide further advice on skate status and quotas at the 2004 NAFO annual meeting;

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 to raise the issue of NAFO skate quotas during upcoming bilateral meetings with Canada and the European Union and to enhance efforts to secure science-based NAFO quotas for thorny skates at the 2004 NAFO annual meeting.