2013 catch limits set for sharks in EU waters

The December EU Fisheries Council concluded in the early hours of this morning, setting the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and Quotas for EU fishing vessels in 2013 – including those for sharks, skates and rays.

Each December the Fisheries Council establishes the fishing opportunities for EU Member States for the following year. Here, with scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), TACs are set and quotas allocated for certain fish stocks in EU and some non-EU waters. The Council also lists those species to be Prohibited to commercial fishing vessels, meaning they cannot be targeted, retained or landed.

Elasmobranch landings by the EU fleet are dominated by the Blue Shark and Shortfin Mako, yet these fisheries have no catch limits despite continued requests. At the same time, some smaller-bodied species such as smoothhound and catsharks are also being caught in increasing volume, again with no catch limits in place. The Shark Trust will continue to advocate for appropriate catch limits.

For 2013 the Council has agreed to reduce the ‘Skates and Rays’ TAC in EU waters by 10%. In addition, Critically Endangered Spiny Dogfish (also known as Spurdog) and Porbeagle Shark will remain on a zero-TAC meaning, if caught, these species cannot be landed. However, the Shark Trust realises that setting a zero-TAC for a species does not in turn equal a zero catch. For this reason the Trust continues to work with the UK commercial fishing industry towards reducing bycatch of vulnerable elasmobranchs, in particular those listed as zero-TAC or Prohibited species.

Although still to be confirmed, the Shark Trust understands the elasmobranch species listed as Prohibited will remain as per 2012, however the two species currently grouped as ‘Common Skate’ are likely to be acknowledged separately.

Quelle: Shark Trust