The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association has asked the authorities to legalize the fishing of “endangered” porbeagle sharks, a move strongly criticized by the world’s leading organization in wildlife conservation, public broadcaster NRK reported Wednesday.
According to the association, there are more porbeagles in the sea and that is why the fishermen asked the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries to allow fishing of this species of mackerel shark.
“We want, of course, to take care of all the species in the ocean. But when we see that it is a resource that is not exploited, we must take the opportunities that the ocean gives,” said Kjell Ingebrigtsen, leader of the Norwegian Fishermen’s Accociation.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reacted strongly against this preposition, calling the porbeagle an endangered species.
“It is very sad that people want to fish more of an endangered shark kind. The fishermen’s association believes the stock is most likely on the way up, but the knowledge and international red list show that stocks throughout Europe are endangered and in decrease,” said Fredrik Myhre, advisor for fisheries and marine conservation at WWF-Norway.
“If the stock should show signs of improvement, that does not automatically mean that people should fish more. It is not the case that we should keep the porbeagle stock at an artificially low and critical level,” Myhre said.
The porbeagle can be three meters long and around 200 kg heavy. Although it is the most common mackerel shark in Norwegian waters, it has not been caught much since 1970.
Viable porbeagle can, according to the Institute of Marine Research, only be taken as bycatch and set free during recreational fishing. There is little tradition of eating porbeagle in Norway, and in the past it was exported mostly to central Europe as a delicacy.
According to Ingebrigtsen, the market asks for this type of fish, whose catch was so large before that the fishermen had their own sales team in Norway.
The fishermen’s team wants a regulation and the leader of the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association said the amount of bycatch shows that this is not an endangered species.
“The regulation does not allow fishermen to fish it. This means that we miss important value creation along the coast. The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association and the fishermen would never suggest fishing fish for which there is no biological fundament,” Ingebrigtsen said.
Myhre, however, believes that it is the fishermen’s association that creates a market for the fish.
“This is an attempt to create legitimacy to fish such highly endangered species. WWF expects Norwegian fisheries authorities to continue to take care of the porbeagle in line with international obligations,” he said.