“”Going forward all sharks, except for the Galapagos, gummy and six-gill sharks will be protected under the new legislation,” Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban said in the House of Assembly.
The Minister said, “Let me first address the burning question that I am sure is on many people’s minds, which is why? Why should we protect sharks? Well, sharks are apex predators meaning they are on top of the marine food chain. They are essential to maintaining healthy marine ecosystems.
“Sharks in Bermuda have not been targeted on an industrial level by local commercial fisherman. We do have a relatively small-scale traditional shark fishery providing “shark hash”. Current legislation already affords these sharks some level of protection, such as a prohibition on finning of sharks at sea, the requirement for a license to use fixed shark fishing lines and lines with more than five hooks. That said Bermuda can and needs to do more to protect these important species.
“Going forward all sharks, except for the Galapagos, gummy and six-gill sharks will be protected under the new legislation. These exemptions were given for cultural reasons and to allow for existing commercial fishing interests to continue at a well-managed level.
“It should be noted that the Galapagos shark is listed as being of ‘Least Concern’ by the IUCN, and smooth dogfish and six-gill shark are listed as ‘Near Threatened’. Species are considered threatened and in need of the strictest protections when IUCN lists them as critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable.
“Recreational fishermen will not be permitted to take sharks and commercial fishermen will be required to obtain a special licence to take the permitted sharks. These licences will have terms and conditions attached, such as catch limits.
“In regards to the Giant Manta Ray, I can confirm that in Bermuda there is no fishing for this gentle and beautiful giant of the deep sea. Further we should make sure there is not any in the future and so ensure its protection, while in our waters, as a protected species under the Protected Species Act 2003.