The EU fishing fleets fuelling the global shark trade

In this report by Greenpeace Spain and Greenpeace UK, we chart the evolution of the North Atlantic shark fishery, tracking the distressing downward trajectory of shark populations and the consequent impacts on ocean health.

We reveal the failure of policy makers to act responsibly, exposing their unwillingness to prioritise ocean health and the communities who depend on it, whilst disclosing the extent to which industry dominates decision-making in pursuit of profit.

We examine the industry’s ever-more efficient and destructive approach to fishing, including the targeting of juvenile sharks and the increasing efficiency of fishing gear.

We propose recommendations that will turn the tide, focusing on the responsibility of the EU to adopt more progressive policy positions in relevant multilateral fora and leading the way in ocean protection.​​

Main findings

  • EU distant water fleets from Portugal and Spain are consistently fishing juvenile (baby) shark breeding grounds.
  • The EU, along with the Spanish and Portuguese governments, have both consistently resisted attempts to improve the management of this fishery because of lobbying by their respective fishing industries, despite claiming to be global ocean champions on the world stage.
  • On an average fishing day in the North Atlantic, there are a shocking 1200kms of fishing cables in the water, with an estimated 15000-28000 hooks.
  • This fishery is the perfect showcase of how regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) are failing the oceans. Here, ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) has consistently failed to protect sharks and our oceans from the multiple threats they are facing.
  • The solution is a Global Ocean Treaty to fix the broken system of global ocean management. A treaty must be finalised at the UN in August of this year, or it will be impossible to protect 30% of our planet’s oceans by 2030.

Download the Greenpeace Spain and Greenpeace UK report:

Hooked on sharks – The EU fishing fleets fuelling the global shark trade