Fishing nations agree better protection for mako shark

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North Atlantic fishing nations have pledged to better protect the endangered shortfin mako shark by ending overfishing from 2022 and helping stocks to rebound over the next 50 years.

At the conclusion of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) this week, countries agreed "to end overfishing immediately and to gradually achieve biomass levels sufficient to support maximum sustainable yield by 2070," according to a statement late on Tuesday.

Shortfin mako sharks are particularly overfished in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean and are classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of threatened species.

Prized for their meat, fins, and for sport fishing, shortfin makos are exceptionally valuable. Unlike their longfin counterparts, shortfins grow slowly and reproduce later, leaving them especially vulnerable.

The ICCAT, a coalition of 50 countries including some of the world's largest fishing nations, also set itself a quota of 62,000 tonnes of bigeye tuna in 2022, and 110,000 tonnes for yellowfin tuna.

It will also hold reviews in 2022 with an eye to producing renewed quotas in 2023, according to the statement.

The Pew Charitable Trusts conservation group welcomed this week's outcome.

"By nearly any measure, this meeting was a success, shows that real progress can be made despite the challenges of the pandemic, and the fishing operations, other stakeholders, and wildlife impacted by ICCAT decisions will be better for it," said Pew's Grantly Galland.

However, Atlantic shortfin makos have been so critically overfished in recent decades that populations are set to continue to decline until at least 2035, even with the new measures, Pew added.