Conservation & Management
The following summary is extracted from the following publication: click on the image to download a pdf.
Colin A. Simpfendorfer, Rachel D. Cavanagh, Sho Tanaka and Hajime Ishihara
The Northwest Pacific region covers much of the western Pacific Ocean, from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia in the south-west (from 10ºS, 100ºE) and includes Irian Jaya but not New Guinea (the Southwest Pacific region officially includes the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya, but the difficulties of separating fishery statistics for a single country within the same ocean has resulted in the whole of Indonesia being covered under the Northwest Pacific region for the purposes of this report), along 10ºN to its eastern boundary at 170ºW. This boundary runs north to the easternmost portion of Russia (formerly the USSR). It also includes part of the Arctic Ocean (see map, Figure 7.19). More than 15 countries and many island nations have coastlines in this region, and several have freshwater areas that are inhabited by elasmobranchs. The region encompasses waters that are tropical, cool temperate and polar, and extensive continental shelf areas of the East China Sea, South China Sea and Java Sea. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Major Fishing Areas that contribute to this region are: the north-western portion of Area 71, a small portion in the north-west of Area 57 and most of Area 61.
Information on landings of elasmobranchs was gathered from FAO statistics that are supplied by many of the countries in the region (FAO 2002). Published data beyond the FAO statistics are limited, but are available for some countries. Other major sources of information for this chapter were Bonfil (1994), the accounts in TRAFFIC (1996) and Chen (1996), FAO case studies for Japan and Malaysia (Ali et al. 1999; Nakano 1999) and the collection of papers from a workshop on elasmobranch biodiversity, conservation and management held in Sabah, Malaysia (Fowler et al. 2002).
The Northwest Pacific region contains a number of the most important elasmobranch-fishing nations in the world and overall landings are high. More than a quarter of the world’s reported elasmobranch landings are taken by these nations. Three of the 10 major elasmobranch fishing nations, Indonesia, Taiwan (Province of China) and Japan, lie within this region. In addition to these countries, Malaysia, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Thailand and the Philippines are among the 20 countries reporting the highest elasmobranch capture production in 1985–2000 (see Table 4.1, Clarke et al. this volume).
Landings of elasmobranchs by countries within the region have generally increased over time, with the biggest increases occurring during the 1980s. The exception to this is Japan, where landings peaked in the 1950s and have since declined. During the 1990s the landings of many nations have reached plateaus. Management of the elasmobranch fisheries in the region is limited and pressures on some stocks are considered to be high. Research on the biology, life history and status of elasmobranch populations is also limited.
Management and conservation
The management of elasmobranchs or elasmobranch fisheries within the region is limited. Most nations have regulations pertaining to the licensing of fishing vessels, but no specific regulations for elasmobranchs. There are some exceptions however. The Philippines, for example, has outlawed the export of R. typus or M. birostris products, mostly to encourage the development of ecotourism (Yaptinchay 1998). In addition, the Philippines is planning to hold a workshop to prepare their draft National Plan of Action for sharks (‘NPOA-Sharks’: for details see Fowler and Cavanagh, this volume) (Alava 2002). Japan is one of the few nations in the world that has already developed an NPOA for sharks (IUCN/SSC SSG and TRAFFIC 2002). Malaysia has designated six species that cannot be landed by recreational fishers and several marine protected areas that benefit elasmobranch populations. In October 2002, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) member countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) held a meeting regarding the improvement of shark fisheries management in the ASEAN region. A programme is underway for 2003–2005 ‘Management of Shark Fisheries in ASEAN-SEAFDEC Member Countries’ with objectives to: understand the biology and ecology of sharks, including habitats they depend upon; identify the threats faced by them and the impacts of fishing practices; develop conservation strategies for sharks in this region and raise awareness among decision makers, managers and the general public of the region with respect to the special biological constraints faced by the sharks and their vulnerability within the fisheries. The outcome of this project is expected to be a publication to be used as a basis for development and implementation of NPOA-Sharks in the region (A.B. Ali pers. comm.).
The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) was founded around 10 years ago to increase trade and prosperity in the Pacific region. This voluntary network (with 21 members: economic regions rather than countries) has a number of working groups, one of which is the Fisheries Working Group for Sustainable Fisheries. In 2000, a project for the Conservation and Management of Sharks was initiated and has as its primary role, the facilitation and implementation of the FAO International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks) (see Fowler and Cavanagh this volume) in the APEC region. A workshop was held in Mexico at the time of writing, with policy makers, the scientific community and industry meeting to discuss regional approaches to shark conservation and management.