Sharks are in a dire position right now, with their numbers decreasing by the millions each year. However, conservationists failed to win new protections for threatened sharks in the Atlantic Ocean at the annual meeting of a major international fisheries commission; they still have hope for following years though, because for the first time, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas has agreed to make some changes in regulations, including shark management.

“This is unprecedented,” says Elizabeth Wilson of the Pew Environment Group, an environmental advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

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I’m not sure though if this is truly that much of a good news, or if this is just throwing a bone which environmentalists are just chowing down. ICCAT, which was established in 1966, manages some 30 species, including swordfish, marlin, and other tunalike species; they are not directly responsible for sharks, but an incredible number of sharks are actually caught in tuna nets.

At the meeting where this was decided, seven proposals were actually brought to the table, but only one passed – urging members to comply with measures already on the books.

“It sets the stage for real shark management in the Atlantic,” says Wilson, who expects the process will take a couple of years.