Published 28th December 2011
Shark conservation and management is being recognized as a major environmental concern, emerging as a new priority in marine conservation. In 1999 the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) developed an international framework for shark conservation.
G. McFarlane, U.M. Arndt and E.W.T. Cooper (eds)
This framework recommended that all States with fisheries that impacted shark species should participate in their management and develop National Plans of Action (NPOA) to identify information gaps, issues and priorities for their conservation and management. Until recently, there has been little action undertaken to manage and protect elasmobranch1 species in Canadian waters. Canada developed a NPOA; however, the plan does not specify actions, priorities or timelines to assess or mitigate threats to non-commercial or most other threatened species. Recently Canada listed three species of shark found in the waters off its Pacific coast under the Species at Risk Act (SARA): the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), tope (Galeorhinus galeus) and bluntnose sixgill (Hexanchus griseus).
The recovery and management plans for these species can be found at www.sararegistry.gc.ca. Recommendations in these plans identified the need for more stakeholder input on issues relating to elasmobranch research needs, management and conservation. In response to this, WWF-Canada hosted a regional shark forum (workshop) on the Atlantic (see Top priorities for future conservation and management for sharks in Atlantic Canada, WWF http://atlanticsharks.org/) and Pacific coasts. The Pacific workshop brought together relevant stakeholders, (including several international experts) from academia, government, NGOs and industry to discuss the most pressing issues within three overarching categories in regards to shark conservation: science, policy/management and on-the-water practice.
The workshop agenda included 1.5 days of presentations, followed by a day of break-out groups and discussion regarding the major priorities around shark conservation and management in Pacific Canada and adjacent regions. Presentations provided the background on current biological, management and conservation concerns as well as identifying industry and other stakeholder issues. Participants were provided with draft priority lists for the most pressing issues, gaps, and/or questions serving as a “strawman proposal” or starting point to help seed and focus discussion and debate.
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