Cetorhinus maximus (Northeast Atlantic subpopulation) 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Lamniformes Cetorhinidae

Scientific Name: Cetorhinus maximus (Northeast Atlantic subpopulation)
Species Authority: (Gunnerus, 1765)
Parent Species:
Common Name(s):
English Basking Shark

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2ad ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2005-10-01
Assessor(s): Fowler, S.L.
Reviewer(s): Musick, J.A. & Cavanagh, R.D. (Shark Red List Authority)
The Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is a very large, filter-feeding cold-water pelagic species that is migratory and widely distributed, but only regularly seen in a few favoured coastal locations and probably never abundant. Most documented fisheries have been characterised by marked, long lasting declines in landings after the removal of hundreds to low thousands of individuals. Its fins are among the most valuable in international trade. Basking Sharks are legally protected in some territorial waters and listed in CITES Appendix II. Compagno (1984) considers the species "to be extremely vulnerable to overfishing, perhaps more so than most sharks, … ascribed to its slow growth rate, lengthy maturation time, long gestation period, probably low fecundity and probable small size of existing populations (belied by the immense size of individuals in their small schools)".

The global status of the Basking Shark is assessed as Vulnerable, with the North Pacific and Northeast Atlantic stocks, which have been subject to target fisheries, assessed as Endangered. These assessments are based primarily on past records of rapidly declining local populations of basking sharks as a result of short-term fisheries exploitation and very slow population recovery rates.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2000 Endangered (EN)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Basking Sharks occur in temperate and boreal oceans. In the North Atlantic, the species occurs from the transition between Atlantic and Arctic waters (including the Gulf of Maine, south and west of Iceland and off the North Cape of Norway and Russia) to the Mediterranean, and occasionally as far south as Senegal and Florida. The different morphological characteristics of Basking Sharks in the Pacific and the north and south Atlantic oceans are not thought to indicate separate species (Compagno 1984), but geographically isolated populations.
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Cyprus; Denmark; France; Germany; Gibraltar; Greece; Greenland; Iceland; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Lebanon; Libya; Malta; Montenegro; Morocco; Netherlands; Norway; Portugal; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Tunisia; Turkey; United Kingdom; Western Sahara
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – northeast
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The Basking Shark has been exploited for several centuries to supply liver oil for lighting and industrial use, skin for leather and flesh for food or fishmeal. Modern fisheries yield liver oil, fins, meat and cartilage.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.1. Marine Neritic - Pelagic
suitability: Suitable  
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.1. Marine Oceanic - Epipelagic (0-200m)
suitability: Suitable  

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.2. Intentional use: (large scale)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 4. Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125, Volume 4, Part 1.

Fowler, S.L., Cavanagh, R.D., Camhi, M., Burgess, G.H., Cailliet, G.M., Fordham, S.V., Simpfendorfer, C.A. and Musick, J.A. (comps and eds). 2005. Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras: The Status of the Chondrichthyan Fishes. Status Survey. pp. x + 461. IUCN/SSC Shark Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2009.2). Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 3 November 2009).

IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group. Specialist Group website. Available at: http://www.iucnssg.org/.

Citation: Fowler, S.L. 2009. Cetorhinus maximus (Northeast Atlantic subpopulation). In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T39340A10207099. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009-2.RLTS.T39340A10207099.en . Downloaded on 04 October 2015.
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