World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is urging the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to take stricter measures to protect the sharks in the Western and Pacific Oceans (WCPO).

In its position paper ahead of the WCPFC meeting later this month, WWF said there is an “ongoing catastrophic decline in oceanic sharks and rays on a global scale.”

WWF stated that oceanic whitetip sharks (OCS) remain overfished and are experiencing overfishing according to the 2019 stock assessment, and silky sharks (FAL) are experiencing overfishing according to the 2018 stock assessment.

To protect the sharks, WWF said that WCPFC should ban both

shark lines and wire leaders to ensure the sustainability and survival of several shark species in the WCPO.  

“Many sharks and rays are treated as “bycatch” of large-scale fishing but get less attention from regional fisheries management organizations as to the decrease in the population of these species, 

“Oceanic sharks and rays are taken in both targeted fisheries and incidentally by vessels seeking tuna, billfishes, and other commercially valuable food fishes. Longline and purse-seine fisheries are taking a particularly heavy toll on these species, as they result in the highest shark and ray catches,” WWF paper stated.

The NGO said it’s time for WCPFC to consider additional measures to conserve and manage oceanic sharks and rays.

Later this month, the nations of the 27- members of the WCPFC will meet to make decisions on critical issues on tropical tunas, harvest strategies, observer safety, and IUU fishing.  And redeployment of fisheries observers at sea post-COVID-19.

The WCPFC is responsible for setting the rules for conserving and managing tuna and other marine resources in the world’s biggest fishery.

The members of the WCPFC are Australia, Canada, China, Cook Islands, the European Community, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Chinese Taipei, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States of America, and Vanuatu.

After two years of conducting meetings virtually,  the WCPFC will be held in person in Vietnam.

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