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Indian Ocean Tuna Commission Rejects Shark Conservation Policies

Last week, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission held their annual meeting in Sri Lanka. As one of the few international fisheries policy organizations in the region, the IOTC is also responsible for management of billfish and sharks. Several new shark conservation policies were proposed this year. These included species-specific protections for hammerhead and oceanic whitetip sharks, closing loopholes in existing policies that ban finning sharks and discarding the bodies at sea, and requiring fishermen to collect and report more types of data on their shark bycatch. All of these proposals were rejected.

Shark Advocates International President Sonja Fordham, who attended the IOTC meeting, said

“The complete failure of Indian Ocean fishing nations to agree on even the most basic measures for the region’s most endangered sharks is deeply distressing and does not bode well for the future of these highly vulnerable and heavily fished species.”

The new conservation policies were proposed by the European Union, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Opposition came from India, Pakistan, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Japan, China, and South Korea.