Save Blue Sharks From the Shark Fin Trade


Proposed for Appendix II listing by Sri Lanka and Samoa Recommended for inclusion by CMS Scientific Council

The blue shark is a highly migratory species found in tropical, subtropical, and warm-temperate waters around the globe, both on the high seas and within EEZs.


These sharks take up to seven years to mature and can have up to 68 pups per litter.18 Their reproductive rate is higher than that of many shark species, but an estimated 20 million19blue sharks are killed annually and their populations are declining globally. Blue sharks dominate the shark fin trade, and landings worldwide have nearly tripled since 2000. Without global cooperation, the lack of management for blue sharks and extensive targeting by fisheries place them at great risk of extinction.

An estimated 20 million blue sharks are killed every year and enter the shark fin trade.

Despite huge catches, this species is unmanaged by the world’s RFMOs.

IUCN status

The blue shark is considered Near Threatened globally and Critically Endangered in the Mediterranean.25

Population threats

The species is caught in extensive, targeted fisheries on the high seas and is bycatch in other pelagic fisheries throughout its range. Blue sharks’ proportion of all shark landings tripled from 1998 to 2011-from 4 to 14 percent.26The world’s most traded shark-valued for its fins in Asia and meat in Europe.27

Management gaps

There are no fisheries management measures-or international trade regulations-for blue sharks that extend throughout their range, so populations of this highly migratory species are likely to continue to decline until globally applicable, enforceable measures are introduced to prevent overexploitation.

None of the major RFMOs has adopted catch or bycatch limits for this species. Scientists with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas have repeatedly recommended capping Atlantic blue shark catches, particularly in the South Atlantic, where it is at higher risk, but no action has been taken.

Despite its status as the most-caught shark, P. glauca is not listed under CITES. The 2007 “Review of Migratory Chondrichthyan Fishes” by the IUCN and CMS noted:

There is no disagreement … over the urgency of introducing management for this species; unfortunately no large-scale collaborative/regional management actions currently seem likely, other than those delivered through shark finning bans. The blue shark is certainly in urgent need of collaborative management by range States and through regional fisheries bodies, but appears not to be a high priority for action at the present time. A CMS Appendix II listing could help to drive the improvements in national and regional management that are required if this species is to be managed sustainably.28

Source Pew Environment Charitable Trust

  1. Shelley Clarke et al., “Identification of Shark Species Composition and Proportion in the Hong Kong Shark Fin Market Based on Molecular Genetics and Trade Records,” Conservation Biology 20 (2006): 201-11,; Shelley Clarke et al., “Global Estimates of Shark Catches Using Trade Records From Commercial Markets,” Ecology Letters 9 (2006): 1115-26,
  2. NOAA, “Update Assessment to SEDAR 21”; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “SEDAR 21 Stock Assessment Report: HMS Dusky Shark” (August 2011),
  3. Shark Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, “Review of Migratory Chondrichthyan Fishes” (2007),
  4. Hideki Nakano and John D. Stevens, “The Biology and Ecology of the Blue Shark, Prionace glauca,” in Sharks of the Open Ocean: Biology, Fisheries and Conservation (2009),; Jiangfeng Zhu et al., “Reproductive Biology of Female Blue Shark Prionace glauca in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean,” Environmental Biology of Fishes 91 (2011): 95-102,
  5. John Stevens, International Union for Conservation of Nature, “The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Prionace glauca,” accessed March 23, 2017,
  6. Alexandre Aires-da-Silva and Vincent Gallucci, “Demographic and Risk Analyses Applied to Management and Conservation of the Blue Shark (Prionace glauca) in the North Atlantic Ocean,” Marine and Freshwater Research 58 (2008): 570-80,
  7. Julia Baum and Wade Blanchard, “Inferring Shark Population Trends From Generalized Linear Mixed Models of Pelagic Longline Catch and Effort Data,” Fisheries Research 102 (2010): 229-39,
  8. Baum et al., “Collapse and Conservation of Shark Populations,” 389-92.
  9. Steven E. Campana et al., “Effects of Recreational and Commercial Fishing on Blue Sharks (Prionace glauca) in Atlantic Canada, With Inferences on the North Atlantic Population,” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 63 (2006): 670-82,
  10. Colin A. Simpfendorfer, Michelle R. Heupel, and Robert E. Hueter, “Estimation of Short-Term Centers of Activity From an Array of Omnidirectional Hydrophones, and Its Use in Studying Animal Movements,” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 59 (2002): 23-32,
  11. Stevens, “IUCN: Prionace glauca.”
  12. Hampus Eriksson and Shelley Clarke, “Chinese Market Responses to Overexploitation of Sharks and Sea Cucumbers,” Biological Conservation 184 (2015): 163-73,
  13. Clarke et al., “Identification of Shark Species Composition,” 201-11.
  14. Shark Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, “Review of Migratory Chondrichthyan Fishes.”
  15. Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara et al., International Union for Conservation of Nature, “The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Rhinobatos rhinobatos,” accessed Feb. 16, 2017,
  16. Ibid.
  17. Brendan Newell, “Status Review Report of Two Species of Guitarfish: Rhinobatos rhinobatos and Rhinobatos cemiculus,” National Marine Fisheries Service (2017), 62 pp.,
  18. Leonard J.V. Compagno and Peter R. Last, “Wedgefishes,” in (eds.) Kent E. Carpenter and Volker H. Niem, The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific: FAO Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes, vol. 3, pt. 1 (Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization, 1999), 1418-22,
  19. Jenny L. Giles et al., “Genetic and Phenotypic Diversity in the Wedgefish Rhynchobatus australiae, a Threatened Ray of High Value in the Shark Fin Trade,” Marine Ecology Progress Series 548 (2016): 165-80,
  20. Ibid.
  21. William T. White and Rory McAuley, International Union for Conservation of Nature, “The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Rhynchobatus australiae,” accessed Feb. 15, 2017,
  22. Nicholas K. Dulvy et al., “Extinction Risk and Conservation of the World’s Sharks and Rays,” eLife 3 (2014): e00590,
  23. White and McAuley, “IUCN: Rhynchobatus australiae.”
  24. Chen Hin Keong, ed., “Shark Fisheries and the Trade in Sharks and Shark Products in Southeast Asia,” TRAFFIC Southeast Asia (1996),
  25. Demian Chapman, pers. comm.
  26. Francesco Ferretti et al., International Union for Conservation of Nature, “The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Squatina squatina,” accessed March 29, 2017,
  27. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, “Report of the Working Group on Elasmobranch Fishes (WGEF)” (2016), 20,; International Union for Conservation of Nature, “Red List of Threatened Species: Squatina squatina”; Nicholas Dulvy, Yvonne Sadovy, and John D. Reynolds, “Extinction Vulnerability in Marine Populations,” Fish and Fisheries 4 (2003): 25-64,
  28. Nicholas K. Dulvy et al., “Extinction Risk and Conservation of the World’s Sharks and Rays,” eLife 3 (2014): e00590,
  29. David Rowat and Katie Lee-Brooks, “A Review of the Biology, Fisheries, and Conservation of the Whale Shark Rhincodon typus,” Journal of Fish Biology 80 (2012): 1019-56,; Nigel Hussey et al., “Expanded Trophic Complexity Among Large Sharks,” Food Webs 4 (2015): 1-7,
  30. Rachel T. Graham, “Global Whale Shark Tourism: A ‘Golden Goose’ of Sustainable Lucrative Tourism,” Shark News: Newsletter of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group16 (2004): 8-9.
  31. Rachel T. Graham, “Behavior and Conservation of Whale Sharks on the Belize Barrier Reef” (Ph.D. diss., University of York, 2003),; Graham, “Global Whale Shark Tourism.”
  32. Simon J. Pierce and Brad Norman, International Union for Conservation of Nature, “The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Rhincodon typus,” accessed Aug. 24, 2017,
  33. Ibid.
  34. Rowat and Brooks, “A Review of the Biology,” 1019-56.

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