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New protections for sharks and rays in Turkey

Written by Oceanographic staf

Turkey has added 14 species of sharks and rays to its list of protected species.

The move comes a year after the Shark League denounced the country for the landing of 30 Endangered giant devil rays.

The Shark League – made up of several conservation organisations, including Oceanographic partner Project AWARE® – has applauded the list extension, 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 ocean, 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 sets 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.”

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.

The Shark League coalition includes the Shark Trust, Shark Advocates International, Ecology Action Centre and Project AWARE®. The League focusses on responsible regional conservation of sharks and rays in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

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