A new scientific study published in the journal Marine Policy estimates that 100 million sharks are being killed each year, with fishing pressure and the demand for shark fin far exceeding the ability of shark populations to recover.
 The researchers estimated that global reported catches, unreported landings, discards and sharks caught and thrown back after their fins were cut off – a process known as finning – added up to 97 million sharks caught in 2010. The actual numbers range between 63 million sharks and 273 million a year, estimated the the research lead by Boris Worm, from Dalhousie University in Halifax.
Sharks need better protection to prevent possible extinction of many species within coming decades, the researchers warned ahead of latest global meeting to discuss the trade in threatened species.
The study comes in advance of next weeks Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) meeting.  Beginning on Monday in Bangkok, this meeting will consider greater protection of vulnerable sharks, including porbeagles, oceanic whitetip and three types of hammerhead to prevent unsustainable international trade in them.
Lead author Dr. Worm said: "Biologically, sharks simply can't keep up with the current rate of exploitation and demand."
Increasingly, sharks are targeted for their fins for use in shark fin soup, a delicacy in Asia.
Sharks are biologically vulnerable to overfishing: they are slow to reproduce, have few young and  are vulnerable to overfishing. It is estimated that between 6.4% and 7.9% of all sharks are being killed each year, above the level that many populations can cope with, leading to declines in a number of species."Protective measures must be scaled up significantly in order to avoid further depletion and the possible extinction of many sharks species in our lifetime."
Although some regions, including the European Union, have banned shark finning, commercial fisheries for fins, meat, liver oil, cartilage and other body parts is largely unregulated in much of the world, conservationists warn.
Under the proposals put forward for consideration by the Cites meeting, five shark species would be listed as Appendix II which would ensure that any international trade in them is sustainable and legal. A previous attempt in 2011 to have the trade Hammerhead and other shark species monitored and regulated under  CITES was defeatted.  However, it is hoped that a combined effort by conservationists
Listing the proposed species and regulating the shark fin trade is critical to protect these species from extinction.
 Manta rays, which are being fished for their gill plates that are sold in China as medicine are also proposed for protection under the CITES treaty.  This relatively new trade is erasing large Manta and Mobuliid Rays form marine ecosystems around the world.
The Pew Environment Group reports that  Mozambique is recording an 86% decline in sightings of these Rays over the last eight years.
Manta rays and sharks are not only valuable to the balance of the ocean but are increasingly important in eco-tourism to island and local economies.  Divers, photographers and
The public needs to contact their CITES representatives and help groups like Sea Stewards combat the shark fin trade and protect sharks from extinction.

View comments

Loading