2009 Management Resolutions

Resolution Regarding U.S. Positions for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
American Elasmobranch Society
July 2009
Portland, Oregon

Whereas the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) provides an international legal framework for preventing trade in endangered species and regulating trade in species at risk;

Whereas CITES Parties convene every two to three years to amend Appendices under which species are listed and will next meet in March 2010;

Whereas inclusion in CITES Appendix II would establish monitoring programs for trade in the listed species’ parts and require countries to demonstrate legal capture and no detriment to the population from trade before exporting the species or its parts;

Whereas inclusion in CITES Appendix I would effectively ban international trade in listed species and their parts;

Whereas Germany has circulated for the consideration of other CITES Parties proposals to list porbeagle (Lamna nasus) and spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) under CITES Appendix II;

Whereas the United States is currently reviewing these proposals and also considering proposing the listing of tope (Galeorhinus galeus), shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrhinchus), longfin mako (Isurus paucus), hammerheads (Sphyrna spp.), requiem sharks (Carcharhinidae), devil and manta rays (Mobulidae), and freshwater stingrays (Potamotrygonidae) on CITES Appendix II and the transfer of freshwater sawfish (Pristis microdon) from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I;

Whereas 2007 proposals from Germany to list porbeagle and spiny dogfish under CITES Appendix II and a 2007 U.S. proposal to list all sawfish species under CITES Appendix I were evaluated based on relevant criteria and endorsed by various CITES experts including the CITES Secretariat, the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, TRAFFIC and most of the members of the CITES Animals Committee Shark Working Group; and

Whereas many other elasmobranch species under consideration for CITES proposals are threatened by unregulated, international trade;

Therefore Be It Resolved that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the United States to support the EU proposals to list spiny dogfish and porbeagle under CITES Appendix II, to propose transferring freshwater sawfish to Appendix I, and to offer or support other proposals to list qualifying elasmobranch species under Appendix II at the 15th Conference of the Parties in March 2010, as a matter of priority.

Resolution Regarding the EU Ban on Shark Finning
American Elasmobranch Society
July 2009
Portland, Oregon

Whereas several European Union (EU) Member States contribute significantly to global trade in shark fins and support vessels that fish all over the world;

Whereas the effectiveness of the EU shark finning ban is undermined by the associated regulation that allows fishermen to land shark fins and carcasses separately in different ports and grants the highest fin-to-carcass weight ratio in the world (5% of whole weight);

Whereas U.S. scientists have determined that 5% of the dressed weight of a shark represents an upper limit for fin-to-carcass ratios;

Whereas Canadian and U.S. fishermen abide by a 5% dressed weight fin-to-carcass ratio and U.S. Atlantic fishermen may also not remove shark fins at sea;

Whereas all the world’s international finning bans, in order to be consistent with the EU fin-to-carcass ratio and lower ratios, intentionally do not specify “dressed” or “whole weight”, thereby allowing for leniency on a global scale;

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

Whereas the European Commission, in its long awaited Community Action Plan for Sharks, pledged in February 2009 to amend the EU finning regulation to require simultaneous landings of shark fins and bodies and reduce the allowable fin-to-carcass ratio to 5% of dressed weight (with possible exceptions); and

Whereas five months since making this pledge, the European Commission has yet to make any perceptible progress in this initiative;

Therefore be it resolved that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the European Commission to immediately propose measures to strengthen the EU ban on shark finning by minimizing the number of vessels permitted to remove shark fins at sea and requiring that such vessels land shark fins and carcasses simultaneously under an allowable fin-to-carcass ratio that does not exceed 5% of the dressed weight of the shark.

Resolution Regarding Amending the Federal Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan
American Elasmobranch Society
July 2009
Portland, Oregon

Whereas the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Management Division is currently soliciting comments on a suite of federal Atlantic fishery management options aimed at, inter alia, ending overfishing of shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrhinchus) and blacknose sharks (Carcharhinus acronotus), rebuilding the blacknose shark population, and managing federal fisheries for smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis).

Whereas NMFS has indicated its reluctance to move forward with previously identified options to impose species-specific, binding, domestic measures for shortfin mako sharks and add deepwater sharks to the list of species for which fishing and retention is prohibited;

Whereas NMFS has indicated a preference to move forward with options to establish species-specific catch limits for blacknose sharks and smooth dogfish;

Whereas bycatch reduction is an essential element of effective blacknose shark recovery efforts and will require cooperation from the Regional Fishery Management Councils;

Whereas the smooth dogfish is the only Atlantic shark species which is subject to targeted fisheries but not federal management measures and a federal management component would likely enhance new management efforts by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission; and

Whereas deepwater sharks are particularly slow growing and therefore vulnerable to overfishing, and related populations have been severely and rapidly depleted from fisheries in other parts of the world;

Therefore be it resolved that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the National Marine Fisheries Service to manage smooth dogfish fisheries, establish species-specific, domestic catch limits to end overfishing of blacknose sharks and shortfin mako sharks, work with the Regional Fishery Management Councils to enhance blacknose recovery efforts through bycatch mitigation measures, and add deepwater sharks to the HMS prohibited species list .

Resolution Regarding U.S. Positions at Regional Fishery Management Organizations
American Elasmobranch Society
July 2009
Portland, Oregon

Whereas the United States is a Party to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO);

Whereas Parties to ICCAT and NAFO will consider scientific advice with respect to allowable catches of elasmobranch species at their 2009 annual meetings;

Whereas the NAFO Scientific Council has recommended reducing the NAFO international total allowable catch (TAC) for thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata) from 13,500t to 6000t;

Whereas scientists from ICCAT and the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) recently met to assess Atlantic porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) populations and will soon deliver management advice;

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

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

Whereas the ICCAT Scientific Committee identified the bigeye thresher (Alopias superciliosus) as a species of high concern and suggested that a prohibition on landings would be effective for conservation, based on ease of identification, low commercial importance, and relatively high post-release survival, and an expert panel convened by the Lenfest Ocean Program recommended that ICCAT prohibit landings of bigeye threshers;

Whereas ICCAT Parties adopted a 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 ICCAT Parties agreed to mandate the release of live bigeye threshers, but lack of observer coverage undermines the effectiveness of such a measure;

Therefore be it resolved that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the National Marine Fisheries Service to prepare proposals for the upcoming annual meetings of ICCAT and NAFO for catch limits for thorny skates, porbeagles, shortfin makos, and bigeye threshers that are in line with available scientific advice and the precautionary approach and are binding on all Parties.

Resolution Regarding the Shark Conservation Act of 2009
American Elasmobranch Society
July 2009
Portland, Oregon

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 and the Senate is considering the Shark Conservation Act of 2009, a bill that would ban the removal of shark fins at sea, apply 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 without such programs;

Whereas a requirement that sharks 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) has prohibited the removal of shark fins at sea for fisheries of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, but not for those of the U.S. Pacific;

Whereas the ability to block imports 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 current Congress;

Therefore Be It Resolved that the American Elasmobranch Society respectfully requests that the United States Senate promptly pass the Shark Conservation Act of 2009 and send it to the President at the earliest opportunity.