Sharks threatened by overfishing in Swedish waters

Continued fishing threatens to kill off several species of sharks from Swedish waters, researchers warn.

Sharks threatened by overfishing in Swedish waters

Northeastern Atlantic populations of the most common variety, the spiny dogfish shark, have dropped by 95 to 98 percent in the last 20 years.

The EU has quotas for catches of spiny dogfish shark which are much higher than what researchers suggest, writes the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

A shark lobbying organization, the Shark Alliance, hopes that Sweden, which is the EU’s most shark-friendly country, will bring up the threatened fish in with EU authorities.

But opposition to a ban on fishing is strong, especially in Spain.

The Mediterranean country is home to the world’s third largest shark fishing fleet, which is primarily out after shark fins, considered a culinary delicacy.

The spiny dogfish shark is also a popular dish often found on Swedish dinner tables. The fish is also sought after for its liver oil.

“Sharks are extra sensitive to high fishing pressure because their reproduction is so slow,” said Barbara Bland of Swedish Board of Fisheries to SvD.

Sharks reach reproductive maturity relatively late in life. The spiny dogfish isn’t ready to produce until it is 10 to 14 years old, and has a 24 month pregnancy, as well as slow egg development.

There are up to 19 varieties of sharks in Swedish waters, but aside from the spiny dogfish shark, only the small-spotted catshark is more common.

There is currently a total ban on fishing the small-spotted catshark.