Issues Facing Sharks
Sadly, many sharks are being chased towards extinction.
- In the last 50 years, the slaughter of sharks has risen by 400%, and by 2017, it is anticipated that 20 species of sharks could become extinct.
- 97 to 99% of certain regional populations of shark species like Tigers and Hammerheads in the North Atlantic are already gone.
- Even marine reserves like Galapagos and Cocos—where sharks are supposedly protected—are the target of illegal fisheries.
- There is no international enforcement mechanism to enforce the laws intended to save sharks.
- Sharks, slow to reproduce, cannot sustain the massive fishing pressures they are under.
- In 2009, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported over 1/3 of all shark species are threatened with extinction.
- Many of the species commonly utilized in shark products are considered endangered, vulnerable or near threatened and often are obtained illegally.
- A large percentage of shark fishing around the world is illegal and supports a ruthless black market.
And, the demand for shark fin, primarily driven by shark fin soup is continuing to skyrocket. Shark populations simply cannot keep up with the demand.
- Consumption of shark fin (and profit for its black market trade) is at an all time high – the trade is global and underground.
- Over the last 30 years, the number of people eating shark’s fin has risen from a few million in the 1980’s to more than 300 million today.
- Research indicates that each year, the fins of up to 73 million sharks are harvested and sold, mostly for shark fin soup.
- A large percentage of these fins come from open ocean sharks like the blue shark, shortfin mako, silky, bull hammerhead and thresher sharks.
- To obtain fins, fishermen often engage in sharkfinning at sea. Finning is a brutal process that involves slicing the fins off a live shark then throwing the shark back into the ocean to die.
At the top of the food chain, sharks are critical to the health of our oceans.
- Sharks keep our largest and most important ecosystem healthy. Our existence, in part, is dependent upon theirs.
- Sharks have sat atop the oceans’ food chain, keeping our seas healthy for 450 million years.
- Allowing the destruction of shark populations may be destroying the largest ecosystem on the planet – and our life support system.
- Studies are already indicating that regional elimination of sharks can cause disastrous effects including the collapse of fisheries and the death of coral reefs.
Few people know or care that many shark species are rapidly moving towards extinction. Our irrational fear of sharks explains our lack of desire to save
- Sharks are magnificent, intelligent creatures that have evolved in the oceans for over 400 million years.
- Sharks are misunderstood and our fears are fueled by the media – not by fact.
- People are more likely to be killed by a bee sting, lightning bolt or vending machine than a shark.
- Only four people died (on record) due to a shark bite in 2008.
- Of the over 500 species of sharks, only a handful of species have been linked to any incidents with humans – that is less than 5% of all shark species.