The population of the porbeagle shark has declined 88% since 1961 yet the Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans refuses to list the species as endangered. Science has shown that even with a fishing ban the porbeagle will take decades to recover its numbers.
The Ecology Action Centre through Friends of Hector, an international campaign dedicated to the protection of sharks and sea turtles from being caught as ‘bycatch’, need your support. Tell Canada to do its part and protect the porbeagle from future fishing.
- Sign the petition. Let Canada’s Fisheries Minister, Gail Shea, know the world cares about the porbeagle shark.
- Add your photo to the Friends of Hector Gallery to show your support for shark conservation.
- Follow and spread the word from Hector the Blue Shark’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Why It Matters
Since 1961 the porbeagle shark has been one of the most endangered sharks in the Atlantic, largely due to overfishing. There have been population declines up to 88% in the west and 90% in the east. In 2011 the European Union officially banned all fishing of this shark in the EU and recommended action be taken on an international scale. Unfortunately, Canada prevented this measure from being passed. It remains the only country on the Atlantic Ocean directly maintaining a fishery for the endangered porbeagle, as well as allowing accidental “bycatch” by those fishing other species.
The porbeagle shark is unique in that it spends most of its life in the colder waters of Canada. Their range of habitat extends from the US/Canadian border between Nova Scotia and Maine, along the coast of Nova Scotia, around the Grand Banks mating area, and up through the Gulf of St Lawrence to northern Newfoundland. This makes the porbeagle very much a Canadian species.
Though it is among one of the fastest swimmers in the sea and a top predator in its territory, the porbeagle has never been incriminated in unprovoked attacks on humans. Female porbeagles come to maturity at 13 years of age, fairly late for a shark. They also produce only four young at a time. These two factors make put the shark at increased risk of overexploitation.
Despite the fact that the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada issued a report outlining why the porbeagle shark should be listed as Endangered under the Species at Risk Act, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans disagreed, citing potential economic loss. Furthermore, Canada is also blocking the EU’s proposal to ban all fishing of this species in the Atlantic. This will allow other countries to continue to catch porbeagles as bycatch and prevent the monitoring of unreported fishing in international waters.
According to Steven Campana, senior scientist at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, “The majority of porbeagles are well offshore and down deep, 100 m or so. The average person is never ever going to run into one; even recreational fisherman will seldom catch one. So really, the only people who run into porbeagles are the commercial fishermen who are looking for them.”
Please sign the petition and send an email asking Canada’s Fisheries Minister, Gail Shea, to support the ban and protect the porbeagle shark.