European Parliament: Question Regarding Shark Fishing in Cape Verde

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Parliamentary question

 7 May 2013

Question for written answer to the Commission
Rule 117
Diogo Feio (PPE)

Subject:  Cape Verde: illegal shark fishing by European vessels

According to media reports, the Cape Verdean environmental organisation Biosfera I has denounced ‘rampant’ shark fishing by European vessels, in particular by Spanish vessels, in Cape Verde’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The organisation believes that European fishing vessels are catching an increasing number of sharks, instead of tuna, under the EU‐Cape Verde Fisheries Partnership Agreement. Meanwhile, Cape Verde’s Director-General of the Environment is said to be preparing a national shark conservation plan, to protect a species that may become endangered due to overfishing in the archipelago’s seas.

1. Is the Commission aware of this situation?

2. What information does it have on this matter?

3. Does it participate or is it willing to participate in programmes designed to protect sharks in Cape Verdean waters?

4. What measures has it taken or will it take in this regard?



11. July 2013

Answer given by Ms Damanaki on behalf of the Commission

The Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) between the EU and Cape Verde covers highly migratory species and its protocol makes reference to Annex 1 of Unclos, where the main pelagic sharks are included. The catch of sharks by EU longliners is therefore allowed under the Agreement and monitored by the Commission through the collection of catch data and analysis of scientific advice.

Shark species associated to the longline fisheries are blue shark (Prionace glauca) and shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) representing respectively 93% and 6% of all shark catch under the agreement. The ICCAT (1) and the STECF (2)(3) defined both as healthy stocks over the North Atlantic (biomass above and harvesting below the level supporting Maximum Sustainable Yield), but advising that fishing mortality of shortfin mako should be kept at current levels due to some assessment uncertainties.

In 2012, the EU proposed in ICCAT measures to constrain catches of shortfin mako to current levels. This EU proposal was not adopted. However, the EU has been active in ICCAT regarding sharks: many of the vulnerable shark species are already prohibited under ICCAT recommendations.

A shark conservation plan to protect shark species in Cape Verde should cover a wide range of species. Under the EU-Cape Verde FPA, the catch of coastal sharks is minor and mainly accidental (the protocol defines a fishing zone 12 nautical miles from the base line). The Commission has been engaged with Cape Verde to ensure sustainable management of the current fishing activity. A scientific meeting between the two parties was held in 2012 and its conclusions corroborate the advice from ICCAT and STECF.

(1)    The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.
(2)    The Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries.

Source: The European Parliament




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