IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category Year Assessed
Endangered Red List Criteria
Fowler, S.L. Reviewer/s
Musick, J.A. & Cavanagh, R.D. (Shark Red List Authority) Contributor/s Justification
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.