Sharks in Peril of Extinction

Science Daily – February 18

Sharks are disappearing from the world’s oceans. The numbers of manylarge shark species have declined by more than half due to increaseddemand for shark fins and meat, recreational shark fisheries, as wellas tuna and swordfish fisheries, where millions of sharks are taken asbycatch each year.

The global status of large sharks has been assessed by the WorldConservation Union (IUCN), which is widely recognized as a highlycomprehensive, scientific-based information source on the threat statusof plants and animals.  Julia Baum, a member of the IUCN’s Shark Specialist Group who will bespeaking at the American Association for the Advancement of ScienceAnnual Conference in Boston on February 17, says that as a result of high and mostly unrestricted fishing pressure, many sharks are now considered to be at risk of extinction.

Among the 400 plus species of existing sharks, the scalloped hammerhead shark willbe listed on the 2008 IUCN Red List as globally ‘endangered’ due tooverfishing and high demand for its valuable fins in the shark fin trade.

Research at Dalhousie University over the past five years, conducted byBaum and the late Ransom Myers, demonstrated the magnitude of sharkdeclines in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. All species the team lookedat had declined by over 50 per cent since the early 1970s. For manylarge coastal shark species, the declines were much greater: tiger,scalloped hammerhead, bull and dusky shark populations have allplummeted by more than 95 per cent.

 

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