May 1, 2014
HAVE YOU SEEN A BASKING SHARK? The Basking Shark Project Basking shark is the second largest shark in the world. It has a very large dorsal fin that often breaks the surface. If you’ve seen a fin at sea, it is very likely that it was from a basking shark! It is common to spot their fins breaking the water surface in the spring and summer when basking sharks swim slowly around to feed on plankton in the surface.
Hai-Norge started a new campaign in 2011 and we are looking for information on the distribution of Basking shark in Norwegian waters. Basking shark used to be very abundant along the coast of Norway, but is now very rare because of overfishing in the past and low reproductive rates.
We at HAI-Norway want to determine the current situation of this shark species, therefore any information is good for us! Are you an old shark fisherman with information about where sharks used to be in the old days, but now was not seen for many years? Your knowledge is useful information for us. Did you get a Basking shark in nets? This is also practical information that can help build up Norway’s first national Basking shark observation database.
What we are interested in are:
• All basking shark sightings that have been made over the last 5 years
• Observation of live shark
• Basking shark that has stuck in the nets
• Basking shark that has been washed up on shore
• Other observations, stories or information.
• All information is helpful to us, including information on any sightings!
• We are also interested in the skin, gills, etc., for genetic studies
What will we do with the information we collect?
• We will start up Norway’s first national registry Basking shark
• Initially, we will try to form a picture of the basking shark distribution along the west coast, to understand where the shark appears, and when they move near the coast during their annual migration.
• If we have collected enough information from the public about the shark’s location, it will eventually be possible to label and track the shark with satellite transmitters!
• If we have more tissue samples, genetic tests will allow us to estimate their relationship with other populations around the world, attempt to map the population size in Norway and how much genetic variation there is in Norway Basking shark today compared to earlier times (via the new and historic samples).
Basking shark facts:
• Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is the second largest fish species in the world, and can be up to 12 m
• Basking shark feeds on plankton and is no threat to humans
• Basking shark can be seen in the spring and summer, when graze after the plankton in the surface.
• Around June we find basking shark along the west coast of Norway
• We know very little about its behavior and migration patterns, one or where it goes in autumn and winter!
• It was very common in the past, but hunt for its liver (oil) and skin led to a collapse in the stock.
• Basking shark is now an endangered species in Norwegian waters, and hunting and trapping are prohibited.
Thank you for your help!
November 26, 2011
Giant manta rays (Manta birostris) got listed on Appendix I and II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) during this week’s Conference of the Parties in Bergen! It was a huge success with many countries supporting the proposal by Ecuador, including Norway. And we, HAI Norge, were there to express our support.
The giant (Manta birostris) and reef (Manta alfredi) manta rays are among the world’s largest fishes. The giant manta ray can grow to more than seven meters across. Manta rays are especially vulnerable to overexploitation due to their very limited reproductive capacity. Female mantas are thought to mature at 8-10 years of age, produce just one pup after a year-long gestation period (with a year or two resting stage), and live at least 30 years. Its large size and tendency to move slowly in predictable aggregations make them easy targets to fishing, the greatest threat to their survival. In recent years, increased East Asian demand for manta ray gill rakers for use in Chinese medicine has been driving dramatic increases in directed, likely unsustainable manta fisheries.
Several NGOs, including HAI Norge, were present and have supported the inclusion of the giant manta ray in CMS Appendix I & II, as proposed by the Government of Ecuador during this week’s Conference of the Parties inBergen,Norway.
“We are elated that the CMS Parties have embraced Ecuador‟s proposal for protecting the magnificent and exceptionally vulnerable giant manta ray,” said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International. “CMS is an excellent vehicle for facilitating much needed national and international safeguards for this wide-ranging, globally threatened species and its key habitats.” The listing obligates CMS member countries to provide strict national protections for giant manta rays and their key habitats, and encourages concerted global and regional action among all Range States to conserve the iconic species. Manta rays are under increasing threat from East Asian demand for their gill rakers, used in Chinese medicine, which is driving targeted fisheries.
November 22, 2011
Istanbul. November 19, 2011. Fishing nations at the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) have acted on one of three shark conservation proposals. ICCAT Parties adopted protections for silky sharks, based on a proposal from the EU, Brazil, and the US. Proposals to protect porbeagle sharks and to strengthen the ICCAT ban on shark finning (slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea) were defeated.
“We are pleased that ICCAT has taken steps to protect silky sharks, but much more must be done to effectively safeguard this and other exceptionally vulnerable shark species,” said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International.
The silky shark is a coastal and oceanic tropical species taken in fisheries around the world. Scientists have warned that this species is highly vulnerable to ICCAT fisheries. The new measure bans retention, transshipment, and landing; it exempts developing countries, provided that catches are reported, do not increase, and do not enter international trade. Countries that require landing of dead fish can also opt out.
For the second time, an EU proposal to protect porbeagle sharks failed due to opposition from Canada, the only Party with a targeted fishery for the species.
Belize, Brazil, and the US were unsuccessful in their third attempt to strengthen the ICCAT finning ban by replacing the current fin to carcass weight ratio limit with a prohibition on removing fins at sea. China, Japan, and South Africa spoke in opposition to the measure.
Shark fins are used in a traditional, celebratory Chinese soup. High demand for fins drives many shark fisheries and provides incentive for finning. Many shark species, particularly porbeagles and shortfin makos, are also sought for their meat. ICCAT has called for reductions in mako fishing, but has yet to limit mako catches. ICCAT adopted protections for bigeye thresher sharks in 2009 and protections for oceanic whitetip and hammerhead sharks in 2010.
“We urge ICCAT Parties to promptly implement the silky shark measure as well as previously agreed ICCAT safeguards for sharks, and to propose protections for mako sharks and other vulnerable species at next year’s ICCAT meeting,” added Fordham.
Press release from Shark Advocates International
November 16, 2011
November 14, 2011
Diving with the majestic manta ray is an eco-tourist’s dream come true that may soon be experienced only by viewing pictures and videos of the shark family’s graceful giants.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group (SSG), based at Simon Fraser University, has added the Giant and Reef manta rays to its Red List of Threatened Species. The IUCN SSG, a worldwide network of scientists co-chaired by SFU biologist Nick Dulvy, has declared manta rays Vulnerable with an elevated risk of extinction. Intense fishing fuelled by international demand is wiping out these iconic species by the hundreds.
Until recently, known as one species, the Giant (Manta birostris) and Reef (Manta alfredi) are among the largest fish in the world. The Giant manta ray can grow to more than seven metres across. Manta rays migrate vast distances, crossing international boundaries, in search of food. Increased fishing is depleting their far-flung feeding stations and fishers seeking their food-gathering gill rakers have become manta rays’ greatest predators. “Given that manta rays have a very low reproduction rate — they give birth to an average of one offspring every two years — they are very vulnerable to overexploitation,” says Dulvy. “They are a long-lived species with little capacity to cope with modern fishing methods and globalized demand from rising human populations.”
“Increasing demand for these fishes’ filter-feeding system for traditional Chinese medicinal purposes, especially in Hong Kong, is rapidly driving down their population everywhere,” says Lucy Harrison. An SFU alumna and biologist, Harrison is the program officer for IUCN SSG.
Mantra ray populations are in steep decline in several regions, with a reduction in numbers by as much as 80 per cent during the last 75 years. Globally, the decline is believed to be more than 30 per cent.
“We can save manta rays — the solution is in our hands,” says Dulvy. He and his IUCN SSG colleagues recommend the creation of international conservation treaties to protect manta rays. They also recommend the following:
- Using the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES) to monitor and regulate the trade and exploitation of manta rays.
- Enacting legislation in countries to reduce and eventually prevent fishing pressures on manta rays through controlled trade.
We, HAI Norge, will participate at the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CMS (COP10) in Bergen, 20.-25. Nov. , where the listing of the Giant Manta ray (among other migratory species) will be discussed. We will further organize a side event on the 22nd, together with Sonja Fordham (Shark Advocates International)! Stay tuned for updates.
The Shark Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 conservation, scientific and recreational organisations, has been launching the fifth annual European Shark Week today by calling on European Union (EU) fisheries ministers to protect sharks from overexploitation and finning – the wasteful practice of slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea.
For five years, the Shark Alliance, EU fisheries and environment officials, and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have been discussing the need to better protect sharks. Two years ago, EU Fisheries Ministers endorsed a sound EU Shark Action Plan that led to significant strides toward conservation of these exceptionally vulnerable species. Yet, there is unfinished business:
For more detail, please visit the Shark Alliance webpage:
We have collected more than 200 Norwegian signatures so far! And the petition is still ongoing, so “Make the PUSH” to protect Europe’s sharks and sign the online petition!
November 8, 2011
Monday, 07 November
ON FRIDAY, the European Union officially extended measures to protect threatened porbeagle sharks (Lamna nasus) from fishing.
Noting the depleted conservation status of the species, the EU has recognised that previous levels of protection for this species were insufficient, because they did not apply to all European waters. Under the amended Regulation, fishing for porbeagles is now prohibited in all EU waters, including the Mediterranean Sea, and by EU vessels fishing in international waters. In addition, if porbeagles are caught accidentally, they must now be released immediately.
“The protection of porbeagles by the EU represents an important step for the conservation of this species. However, given its highly migratory nature, if porbeagles are to recover, similar actions must follow at the international level”, declared Dr. Allison Perry, wildlife marine scientist with Oceana Europe.
Key fora for international protection of porbeagles are the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the Barcelona Convention. Meetings for both ICCAT and the Barcelona Convention are to be held in November 2011, providing critical opportunities for the future of this species in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean.
The porbeagle is a large, warm-blooded, wide-ranging shark that is highly valued for its meat and fins. Threatened primarily by decades of over-exploitation, porbeagles have undergone severe population declines and are considered to be Critically Endangered in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Because they are relatively slow-growing, late-maturing, and long-lived, they are very slow to recover from depletion.
A stock assessment of porbeagles in 2009, carried out jointly by scientists from ICCAT and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) concluded that no targeted fishing or landings of these sharks should be permitted, and that even with no fishing, the porbeagle population in the Northeast Atlantic would take up to 34 years to recover. In the Mediterranean, porbeagles are estimated to have declined by up to 99% since the mid-20th century.
November 21, 2009
I am currently in Palma de Mallorca representing HAI Norge at the 13th annual conference of the European Elasmobrach Association (EEA) – 19.-21. Nov. 2009.
Participants from more than 20 countries are currently meeting in Palma to present and discuss current research on elasmobranch fishes. Among the topics are ecology, management and conservation, fisheries, taxonomy and population genetics.
19.11.09 – HAI Norge is now an official member of the EEA! After reviewing the membership application, the EEA board announced its decision to grant HAI Norge membership during the Annual General Meeting (AGM).
During the two days 37 scientific talks and more than 50 scientific posters were presented, including my talk about the first HAI Norge project on “Genetic diversity of basking sharks” (for details please see the project page soon).