Palau is seeking a ban on all shark lines used on long line vessels based on scientific evidence that silky sharks are currently being overfished.
Palau’s director of oceanic fisheries management Nanette Malsol said they had put the measure before the Western and Central pacific Fisheries Commission meeting today (Dec 4) in Cairns Australia and were hopeful of a positive outcome. She told Islands Business that Palau on behalf of the Forum Fisheries Agency was seeking a ban on shark lines and wire traces on long line tuna vessels. A number of shark species like pelagic sharks, such as basking shark and great white shark, oceanic white tips, porbeagle and scalloped, greater and smooth hammerhead sharks have been listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The paper states that the FFA wants vessels operating in fisheries shall not be permitted to use wire trace as branch lines or leaders so that sharks can self release by biting through monofilament trace. “We are not changing the whole measure just adding a ban on use of shark lines which are short wire branch lines attached to floater lines and designed specifically to target sharks in the upper water column,” Malsol said. “The Initial analysis of SPC suggests banning these could reduce silky shark mortality by 35 per cent so banning would be a significant steo in reducing mortality of thee species. “We regard the use of shark lines on tuna long lines as legally and socially irresponsible and recommend their prohibition on all vessels in WCPFC. “The scientific committees in 2012 and 2013 highlighted the need for the WCPFC to take this issue more seriously. “So with the new information presented at last scientific committee meeting on silky shark and oceanic whitetip shark species we have decided to seek this measure.” Palau has strong laws on shark fining and zero tolerance on shark retention, having its own shark sanctuary. “We want to make sure commission takes compatibale meaures although Palau has strong laws against shark fining and zero tolerance on shark retention. “We hope the commission can take steps to at least protect sharks identified as high mortality.”