Our awareness campaign has been running since March 2014: all year there have been regular adverts in Portuguese in two newspapers on these Portuguese islands. This advert is in the form of an open letter to the population explaining that over 60,000 tons of blue shark and mako shark are caught by the Spanish and Portuguese fishing fleets each year in the North Atlantic.
The areas around the Azores are a topical example. For almost 10 years 100 Spanish and 30 Portuguese ships from the mainland have been permitted to fish on an industrial scale within the 200nm zone (EEZ) – with no regard for the interests of the Azores.
Official government figures report 2800 tons of shark are landed in the port of Horta by Spanish fishermen each year. Sharkproject calculates this figure to be closer to 5000 tons per year.
The consequences of this industrial catch are far-reaching:
- Extreme pressure on fish stocks through the overfishing of blue marlin, swordfish and tuna. This raid runs counter to the interests of the Azores.
- Extinction of sharks leading to a dramatic change in the marine ecosystem around the Azores. Catches of the local fishermen are already showing an alarming drop.
- A reduction in tourism. The Azores are famous for their gentle ecotourism, and it is a major draw for people from all over the world. The tourism industry, which is so important to the local population, will be badly damaged by the shark fishing.
SHARKPROJECT is working with the newly founded organisation AOMA (Associação dos Operadores de Mergulho dos Açores) and its President Paulo Reis.