THE WAY AHEAD
Perhaps one of the more obvious approaches to complement national efforts is to require the fisheries that source them to be verified as sustainable by a global organisation. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an international certification body for sustainable fishing, judges sustainable fishing according to measurements of healthy populations of species, as well as management measures that prevent overfishing and harm to the environment.
Elaine Tan from WWF says: “The development of sustainable fisheries for sharks is an important part of the solution to the shark crisis. But so far, only one shark fishery in the world has been certified sustainable by the MSC – for spiny dogfish in the US.”
While this does illustrate certain problems – why would nations, especially developing ones, consent to sustainable standards and hurt their fishing industry? – it would undoubtedly be to the benefit of shark populations.
For now, at least, the road ahead for nations with large ports is to implement appropriate coding and to properly enforce their controls. In this way, unsustainable fisheries that target sharks indiscriminately (or seek to circumvent regulations) are cut off from exploiting the international market. Alongside education – from cities to isolated fishing villages – which will strengthen people’s resolve to get their nations to live up to international obligations, things may just start to change for the better for sharks. ag