MMO issues advice on thresher sharks
Marine Management Organisation (MMO)
16. October 2013
Advice on thresher sharks
The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has issued guidance following the recent landing and sale of a common thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus), a species which is found in cold temperate waters including around the UK.
There are certain restrictions for commercial fishing vessels in regard to all species of thresher sharks, which prohibits any directed fishery for them. In the Indian Ocean (area covered by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, known as IOTC waters) there are additional measures which prohibit the retention and landing of this genus of shark.
It is prohibited for commercial fishing vessels to retain and land big eye thresher shark (Alopias superciliosus), a species that is found in tropical and warm temperate waters.
The common thresher shark is listed as vulnerable worldwide, and near threatened in the North East Atlantic on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Under EU fisheries regulations, it is not prohibited to catch common thresher shark in EU waters providing there is no directed fishery for this species. Therefore, commercial fishing vessels are allowed to retain and land this species if caught accidentally. We would always advise that if the shark caught accidentally and is still alive, then it should be released, but if it is already dead then it is permitted to land it.
The advice for commercial fishermen with regards to common thresher sharks at this time is:
- if caught in the Indian Ocean area then it must be returned to the sea unharmed
- if caught and is alive in EU waters then it should be released
- if caught outside IOTC and is dead then it can be landed and sold
- the catch must be recorded in your logbook