News Releases 2004
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INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ADOPTS U.S. PROPOSAL FOR SHARK FINNING BAN
Sixty-three countries unanimously adopted historic and unprecedented protective measures for Atlantic sharks during the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. Led by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States delegation pushed for and won a consensus agreement. The meeting concluded Sunday in New Orleans. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“This agreement is what we needed to ensure the survival of Atlantic sharks,” said William Hogarth, director of the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. government commissioner to ICCAT. “American fishermen have been adhering to strict regulations for sharks, and this action will level the regulatory arena so all nations can contribute to shark conservation.”
After a week of deliberations, ICCAT adopted the U.S. proposal to ban the wasteful practice of shark finning – slicing the fin off the shark and discarding the carcass to save space on a fishing vessel. The United States has long condemned shark finning, which threatens future food security in many countries, as well as the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. The United States banned finning in the Atlantic in 1993, and this binding agreement will require other countries fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean to do the same.
“This decision signals that the international community is ready and willing to join the United States in managing sharks for long-term sustainability,” Hogarth said. “All fishing nations recognize the importance and value of healthy shark populations, and we are pleased that our international partners share our goal of preventing further decline of sharks and rebuilding depleted stocks.”
This historic agreement comes just days after the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution urging nations to work together through regional fisheries management organizations to manage sharks. It includes adoption of additional shark management practices already in place in the United States, such as data collection on catches of sharks, research on shark nursery areas and a provision to encourage the release of live sharks, especially juveniles. Co-sponsors of the shark proposal included Canada, the European Community, Japan, Mexico, Panama, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.
ICCAT also adopted important measures for other species and addressed additional issues:
Non-cooperation with Existing Agreements
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s living marine resources and their habitat through scientific research, management and enforcement. NOAA Fisheries provides effective stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public.