Regulation News

Urgent Action Needed to Protect Sharks and Rays in the Mediterranean

Shark and ray experts from all over the Mediterranean met in Mallorca from 4 – 7 November to discuss the status and identify actions to improve the conservation of sharks, rays and chimaeras – some of the most threatened groups of marine species in the Mediterranean Sea.

Sharks play a vital role in maintaining the food chain balance in Mediterranean marine ecosystems. However, their negative image has overshadowed the vulnerability of this group of species. Currently 53% of sharks, rays and chimaeras are estimated to be at risk of extinction in the Mediterranean region, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.

From 4 to 7 November, the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation (IUCN-Med) together with the support of Marilles Foundation brought together international marine conservation specialists, NGOs and other organizations to review current threats and identify actions to protect these species.

“Our goal is to capitalize the information that we have from the species, increase the visibility of the existing management initiatives throughout the Mediterranean and find synergies and opportunities between them,” explains María del Mar Otero, marine ecologist from the IUCN Mediterranean Marine programme.

Moreover, the relationship with Mediterranean fisheries, as well as the commercial value of these species and related issues, such as the incidental catch will be also subject to discussion.

More than 50 researchers and conservationists attended this meeting, including representatives from: University of Siena, Al-Azhar University in Egypt, the Agricultural University of Albania, the Institute of Marine Biology of Montenegro, the National Research Council of Italy, Institut National des Sciences et Technologies de la Mer in Tunisia, Halieutique Campus Universitaire from Algeria, Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre in Cyprus, AKD Turkey, WWF,  iSea in Greece, Sathoan in France,  Kahn Marine Research Station in Israel, members of IUCN’s Shark Specialist Group and more.

The situation on the Balearics

The last day of the conference on 7th November focused on the state of sharks and rays in the Baleric waters; the pressures they are subject to and actions to revert this trend. This session aimed at laying the foundations of a future Shark and Ray Conservation Plan for the Balearic region.

“Shark and rays are amazing species which have suffered a severe decline across the Mediterranean and the Balearics are no exception to this. Restoring shark and ray populations to healthy levels is a key priority for us. This meeting is an excellent opportunity to start working on a Conservation Action Plan to protect these species in the Balearics”, says Aniol Esteban, director of Marilles Foundation. 

Story by IUNC

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