WWF draws up five-point “to-do list” for Dutch minister
WWF NL recently applauded the work of Dutch Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Carola Schouten for drawing up a strategy to protect sharks and rays in the Dutch Caribbean. But WWF NL is also calling on the senior government leader to deliver on an earlier pledge to better protect sharks and rays much closer to home, in the North Sea.
Minister Schouten has promised better protection for sharks and rays in the Netherlands’ North Sea, although such promises have been made before. In 2015 the then Dutch Secretary of State Martijn van Dam had also promised such protective measures following a very successful WWF campaign called Shark Alarm.
Tens of millions of sharks killed every year and populations of some sharks have declined by more than 95%. Tt is estimated that a quarter of all shark and ray species face extinction.
In the North Sea there are nine species of sharks and nine species of rays, according to the Dutch Shark Society, but most of these are not doing well. In the Dutch Caribbean, shark populations have been strongly depleted over the last half century, with the most serious threats coming due to overfishing and degredation from habitat loss.
WWF NL has a strategy to see shark and ray populations restored in the North Sea by 2030 through limiting bycatches of current numbers of sharks and rays, breeding and releasing juveniles of endangered species and creating safe habitats for these creatures. Towards that objective, WWF NL has drawn up a five-point “to-do list” to help the minister successfully protect sharks and rays:
- Ensure better (legal) protection of sharks and rays at EU level. The identification of endangered shark and ray species as protected species is an important first step.
- For the sharks and rays in the North Sea, do what you do for these animals in the Caribbean waters: protect the spawning grounds and habitats by creating a shark and ray reserve.
- Establish a catch ban and a restoration obligation for all types of sharks and rays in all major spawning grounds and habitats in the Netherlands and the EU. The Oosterschelde, for example, is a well-known breeding ground and an important habitat for the tope, the spotted smooth doghound and the thornback ray.
- Take additional by-catch restrictive measures for fishing. These are necessary to better protect sharks and rays in the North Sea and the Dutch delta.
- Make the necessary capacity and financial resources available to enforce and control the rules in shark reserves such as those in the Caribbean Netherlands.
For more information from WWF NL project partner Dutch Shark Society, please click here.
For more information on the status of sharks and rays in the Dutch Caribbean, please click here.