February 4, 2023

New Oceana Analysis Finds Tuna Fisheries Are Masking USD $411 Million Blue Shark Industry

Oceana calls on regional fishery management organizations and member states to comprehensively manage the fishing of blue sharks

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A new Oceana-commissioned study reveals that vessels authorized to fish in the waters of designated tuna regional fishery management organizations (RFMOs) are operating major shark fisheries, propping up a massive blue shark (Prionace glauca) commercial fishery with a landing value worth USD $411 million. This first-of-its-kind analysis shows the catch value of blue shark exceeds that of each of the three iconic bluefin tuna fisheries. The report confirms blue shark represents 60% of all reported global shark catches, singularly dominating both the shark fin and meat trade, while direct management of the species remains absent.

Last month at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, world leaders voted to provide protections for 60 shark species, including blue sharks. This decision means these species can only be traded if their stocks are proven to be sustainably managed. Except for a 2019 catch limit set under the jurisdiction of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) RFMO, blue sharks are fished without any limits. “Despite being considered one of the most resilient and abundant shark species, blue shark populations are threatened by poor management,” said Philip Chou, Oceana’s Senior Director of Global Policy. “Without proper management, blue sharks and the ecosystems they balance face a perilous future. Direct and active fishery management of blue sharks must begin immediately.”

This report analyzed global data on the catch, trade, and management of sharks and tuna reported to the Food and Agriculture Organization and RFMOs. Researchers led by Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd. found that nearly 200,000 metric tons of blue shark were legally caught and landed in 2019, amounting to over 7 million blue sharks. Of that catch, 90% was brought in by large-scale commercial fleets, mostly longliners, with 74% flagged to distant-water fishing nations. Spain and Taiwan are responsible for roughly half the total blue shark catch.

To access Oceana’s summary and the full report, visit oceana.org/blueshark. This research was prepared for Oceana’s Transparent Oceans Initiative — an international program that illuminates the global footprint of the world’s distant-water fishing fleets, catalyzing policy change to protect the ocean and the communities who rely on it.

Contact: Anna Baxter, abaxter@oceana.org

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