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COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Basking Shark (Pacific population) in Canada

Existing Protection or Other Status Designations

There is no explicit protection of basking sharks in Canada. This species receives de facto protection by broad regulations that prohibit finning of any shark species. Given that there is no market for other parts of basking sharks in Canada, there is no directed exploitation. Elsewhere in their global range, they fall under a variety of protective measures or status designations. Internationally, the IUCN Red List assessment has categorized basking sharks as Vulnerable globally and Endangered in the northeast Atlantic and north Pacific and even Critically Endangered in the case of “Barkley Sound” (Canada) (Fowler 2000). In 2002, a CITES Appendix II proposal put forth by the government of the United Kingdom was accepted and came into effect at the end of February 2003.

In US federal Atlantic waters basking sharks are protected by a National Marine Fisheries Service regulation for Atlantic shark fisheries which prohibits directed commercial fishing, landing and sale. The United Kingdom is the only country with strict protection for basking sharks, which in addition to any form of killing also has laws against disturbance and harassment. New Zealand’s Fisheries Act prohibits the targeting of basking sharks but allows the bycatch to be utilised. In the Mediterranean Sea basking sharks are listed on Annex II of the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean. To date only Malta has legally protected basking sharks. The Mediterranean population is also listed on Appendix I of the Bern Convention for the Conservation of European Wildlife and Habitats.

Basking sharks in Pacific waters have not been assessed by the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre.