The Shark Alliance, a coalition of NGOs dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations, yesterday condemned two illegal landings of basking sharks, both over seven metres and weighing roughly two tonnes, taken from waters off Greece within the span of a week.
The sharks were reportedly taken unintentionally by net fishermen off the coast south of Athens, one on 12 March and another just two days later.
The basking shark, the second largest fish species on earth, is protected under EU regulations and classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as “vulnerable” to extinction in the Mediterranean.
Ali Hood, conservation director for the Shark Trust, a founding member of the Shark Alliance with a long history in basking shark conservation, said: “There are so few safeguards for sharks in Europe. It is critical that all existing regulations, particularly those for endangered species, are strictly enforced and that fishermen are educated about them.
“Fishermen must be made aware of the need to avoid netting basking sharks and the importance of carefully releasing and reporting any that are caught accidentally,” Mr Hood continued.
The basking shark landed on 12 March was sold at a local fish market. The shark’s huge liver is valuable for its oil which is used in cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.