2012 Management Resolutions

Resolution Regarding U.S. Priorities at CITES
American Elasmobranch Society
August 2012
Vancouver, British Columbia

Whereas listing under Appendix II to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) can promote conservation of internationally traded species through requirements for export and import;

Whereas the next CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP) will take place in March 2013, and proposals to amend the CITES Appendices are due October 4, 2012;

Whereas the oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a threatened species (globally Vulnerable) due in large part to international demand for their fins for use in shark fin soup;

Whereas the U.S. government detailed the threats to oceanic whitetip sharks in a proposal to list the species under CITES Appendix II at the last CoP in 2010;

Whereas several Regional Fishery Management Organizations have recognized the exceptional vulnerability of oceanic whitetip sharks by adopting binding measures toward prohibiting retention and landing of the species, and yet compliance and consistency of resulting limits throughout the species’ range are still lacking;

Whereas experts in a workshop convened by CITES and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded that CITES measures can play a valuable role in supporting sustainable shark fisheries and should be considered as a complement to fisheries management;

Whereas the CITES Secretariat, an FAO expert panel, and IUCN concluded prior to the 2010 CoP to CITES that the oceanic whitetip shark as well as three hammerhead species (Sphyrna spp.), and the porbeagle (Lamna nasus) meet the criteria for listing under CITES Appendix II;

Whereas none of the proposals to list these shark species under CITES Appendix II achieved the two-thirds majority vote necessary for adoption in 2010; and

Whereas the CITES Animals Committee and other experts have warned of unsustainable fishing pressure on Manta species driven by the lucrative international trade in gill rakers;

Therefore be it resolved that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the United States government to promptly develop, release, and promote a proposal to list the oceanic whitetip shark on CITES Appendix II at the next CoP, and to actively support other CITES Parties’ proposals to also list porbeagles, hammerhead sharks, and manta rays under CITES Appendix II. 

Resolution Regarding The EU Ban On Shark Finning
American Elasmobranch Society
August 2012
Vancouver, British Columbia

WHEREAS the European Union (EU) is the main supplier of shark fins to Asia;

WHEREAS “finning” (slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea) is an exceptionally wasteful practice which has been banned by many countries and by international fisheries bodies;

WHEREAS the effectiveness of the EU shark finning ban is undermined by the associated regulation that allows fishermen with special permits 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 requiring that sharks be landed with their fins still naturally attached is widely recommended by shark scientists and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as by far the most reliable method for enforcing shark finning bans;

WHEREAS prohibiting at-sea removal of shark fins can also facilitate the collection of species-specific data on shark catches which is needed for stock assessment;

WHEREAS “fins attached” policies are being effectively implemented in most U.S. shark fisheries;

WHEREAS the European Parliament adopted a 2010 Resolution calling on the European Commission to deliver a proposal to prohibit the removal of shark fins on-board vessels;

WHEREAS the European Commission, after exhaustive consultation, released in 2011 a proposal to strengthen the EU finning ban by discontinuing permits that allow shark fin removal on-board vessels;

WHEREAS 25 EU Member States (all except Spain and Portugal) endorsed the European Commission’s proposal in early 2012;

WHEREAS the European Parliament Fisheries Committee has been debating the European Commission’s finning regulation proposal for many months and their official response has been repeatedly delayed.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the European Parliament Fisheries Committee to endorse, without further delay or any exception, the European Commission’s proposal for an EU-wide prohibition on the removal of shark fins on-board vessels in time for consideration by the Plenary in October 2012.

Resolution Regarding US & Canadian Positions At ICCAT
American Elasmobranch Society
August 2012
Vancouver, British Columbia

WHEREAS the United States and Canada are Parties to the International Commission for theConservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT);

WHEREAS Parties to ICCAT will consider scientific advice and proposals with respect to sharkcatches at their 2012 annual meeting in November;

WHEREAS the report from a 2012 ICCAT stock assessment for shortfin mako sharks (Isurusoxyrinchus) recommends that fishing mortality not increase until more reliable stock assessmentresults are available;

WHEREAS scientists from Canada and from the International Council for Exploration of the Sea(ICES) have reported serious declines in North Atlantic porbeagle (Lamna nasus) biomass, ICESscientists have recommended a ban on landing Northeast Atlantic porbeagles, and Canadianscientists have estimated the recovery time for Northwest Atlantic porbeagles at up to 100 years;

WHEREAS most experts agree that a requirement for landing sharks with their fins still naturallyattached is the best way to enforce a ban on shark “finning” (slicing off a shark’s fins anddiscarding the body at sea);

WHEREAS U.S. Atlantic fishermen are subject to more shark regulations (including a shortfinmako quota, a prohibition on removing shark fins at sea, and a porbeagle bycatch limit) thanfishermen from any other ICCAT Party;

WHEREAS the U.S. has been gaining support for efforts within ICCAT to limit mako catches andend at-sea shark fin removal, and the EU has gained U.S. support in attempts to secure an ICCATprohibition on retaining and landing porbeagle sharks; and

WHEREAS the Canadian government has yet to promote the shark proposals mentioned above.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the United Statesand Canadian governments to propose or support at the 2012 ICCAT annual meeting catchlimits to prevent increased shortfin mako fishing, a ban on at-sea removal of shark fins, and anAtlantic-wide prohibition on retention of porbeagle sharks.

Resolution Regarding Atlantic Smoothhound Sharks
American Elasmobranch Society
August 2012
Vancouver, British Columbia

WHEREAS the smoothhound shark (Mustelus canis) is the only shark species along the U.S.Atlantic coast that is subject to substantial landings in commercial fisheries but not catchlimits;

WHEREAS NMFS implemented in 2008 a requirement that all sharks be landed with their finsstill naturally attached to improve enforcement and data collection in Atlantic fisheries;

WHEREAS the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) announced a similarfins-attached requirement and a precautionary commercial quota for smoothhound sharks in2008;

WHEREAS within a year, the ASMFC rescinded its smoothhound quota and created anexception to the “fins-attached” rule for smoothhounds;

WHEREAS; the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has determined that landings ofsmoothhounds (average of 431 metric tons dressed weight annually) rank among thehighest for any shark species managed by NMFS;

WHEREAS Atlantic smoothhound sharks are not scheduled for stock assessment until 2014;

WHEREAS NMFS announced in 2010 the establishment of smoothhound managementmeasures including precautionary catch limits for implementation in 2012;

WHEREAS text specific to smoothhound sharks in the U.S. Shark Conservation Act (SCA)of 2010 may complicate federal shark management and has contributed to a postponement ofNMFS smoothhound fishing limits; and

WHEREAS NMFS is currently developing regulations to implement the SCA.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the AtlanticStates Marine Fisheries Commission to end the exception to the ban on removing shark fins atsea granted for smoothhounds, and to immediately reinstate a commercial smoothhound quotathat at least prevents expansion of the fishery until population assessment results and advicefor sustainable catch limits are available.

Resolution Regarding Thorny Skates
American Elasmobranch Society
August 2012
Vancouver, British Columbia

WHEREAS the Northwest Atlantic population of thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata) is astraddling stock classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) asVulnerable off the east coast of Canada and Critically Endangered off New England;

WHEREAS the thorny skate is a prohibited species in the U.S. under the New England FisheryManagement Council (NEFMC) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Skates;

WHEREAS thorny skate biomass off New England has not recovered or even shown signs ofsubstantial rebuilding since the species was protected in the U.S. in 2003;

WHEREAS the NEFMC has no immediate, concrete plans to amend its Skate FMP to ensurethorny skate recovery, and recently secured an emergency 56% increase in the skate quotadespite associated bycatch of thorny skates;

WHEREAS the United States and Canada are Parties to the Northwest Atlantic FisheriesOrganization (NAFO);

WHEREAS NAFO has adopted an international total allowable catch (TAC) limit for theregion’s skate fishery (which takes primarily thorny skates), but has set the TAC at asubstantially higher level than that advised by the NAFO Scientific Council;

WHEREAS Canada holds a major share (17%) of the NAFO skate quota (1400 metric tons) anddoes not impose domestic, species-specific catch limits for thorny skates;

WHEREAS Parties to NAFO pledged in 2011 to amend NAFO skate limits based on scientificadvice for thorny skates at the 2012 annual meeting.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Elasmobranch Society urges the U.S. andCanadian governments to initiate and enforce binding domestic measures to ensure rebuildingof the thorny skate population, and to work in good faith with the European Union at the 2012NAFO annual meeting to secure an equitable NAFO skate TAC that does not exceed the leveladvised by the NAFO Scientific Council.