Home Scuba News Turkey Takes Sweeping Action to Protect Endangered Sharks & Rays

Turkey Takes Sweeping Action to Protect Endangered Sharks & Rays

A year after denouncing Turkey for the landing of 30 Endangered Giant Devil Rays, the Shark League is applauding the country for announcing protections for this and 13 other species of rays and sharks.

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A year after denouncing Turkey for the landing of 30 Endangered Giant Devil Rays, the Shark League is applauding the country for announcing protections for this and 13 other species of rays and sharks.

The fish are being added to the government’s list of prohibited species, which until now included only five kinds of sharks.

“Turkey’s new rules will help safeguard some of the most threatened sharks and rays in our oceans, including Critically Endangered angel sharks and Shortfin Makos,” said Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust. “We congratulate the Turkish government officials and conservation groups involved in this decision. It represents a significant step toward Mediterranean shark and ray conservation and a solid example for other countries in the region.”

In 2012 the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), which includes Turkey, adopted a measure to end fishing and retention of 24 imperiled shark and ray species listed under a special protocol of the Barcelona Convention. Implementation at national levels, however, has been slow.

“We are particularly excited to welcome Turkey’s first protections for skates and rays, as these exceptionally vulnerable species are too often overlooked,” said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International, a project of The Ocean Foundation. “We are relieved that our calls to prevent another significant take of Giant Devil Rays have been heeded, and also pleased to see new protections for six other ray and skate species, especially the Mediterranean’s two Endangered guitarfishes.”

SHARK & RAY SPECIES GAINING NEW PROTECTIONS IN TURKEY

Species included under GFCM measure

Species not included under GFCM measure

Common name

Scientific Name

IUCN Red List Status

(Mediterranean)

Common name

Scientific name

IUCN Red List Status

(Mediterranean)

Shortfin Mako

Isurus oxyrinchus

Critically Endangered

Bull Ray

Pteromylaeus bovinus

Critically Endangered

Angular Rough Shark

Oxynotus centrina

Critically Endangered

Common Thresher

Alopias vulpinus

Endangered

Smoothback Angelshark

Squatina oculata

Critically Endangered

Common Eagle Ray

Myliobatis aquila

           Vulnerable

Sawback Angelshark

Squatina aculeata

Critically Endangered

Thornback Skate

Raja clavata

Near Threatened

Angelshark

Squatina squatina

Critically Endangered

Longnose Spurdog

Squalus blainville

Data Deficient

Giant Devil Ray

Mobula mobular

Endangered

Spinetail Devil Ray

Mobula japanica

Blackchin Guitarfish

Rhinobatos cemiculus

Endangered

For more information, see IUCN Mediterranean Shark Status Report

Common Guitarfish

Rhinobatos rhinobatos

Endangered

 

(Before this action, Turkey had prohibited take of Basking Sharks, Spurdog, Porbeagle, Tope, and Sandbar Sharks.)

The Shark League will use a GFCM Working Group meeting next week in Beirut as an opportunity to press for continued progress towards full implementation of the 2012 GFCM shark and ray measure. Specifically, the coalition is urging other Mediterranean countries to follow Turkey’s lead in protecting endangered sharks nationally, while encouraging Turkey to protect the remaining species listed in the GFCM measure, including Smooth Hammerheads, Spiny Butterfly Rays, and White Sharks.

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Lorna Dockerill
Lorna Dockerill
Lorna fell in love with scuba diving back in 2011 during a trip to Thailand and Australia. Having always dreamt of seeing a sea turtle in the wild, her dream was realised on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef while training to become a certified diver. Since then she’s developed a passion for the natural world, writing about wildlife photography – both the on land and underwater kind – for the past eight years.

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