The evidence is that several oceanic species of shark & rays will disappear in our lifetimes. It creates all kinds of passion in me that human greed and ignorance is going to wipe yet more creatures off the planet. A study published 4 years ago shows that more than half of the world’s ocean-going sharks are at risk of extinction, the IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG) found that 11 species are on the high-risk list, with five more showing signs of decline. Sharks are particularly affected by over-fishing as they reproduce slowly. Many organisations are calling for global catch limits, an end to the practice of removing fins, and measures to minimise incidental catches (bycatch). Unfortunately, the open ocean has few laws to protect its wildlife. Whales are protected by most countries but there are few people who have not seen the Sea Shepherd warriors battling with huge Japanese whaling ships. The epic struggles are David and Goliath in the modern era. Fortunately for the whales there has been a miracle, with reports that the whaling may stop because it is uneconomical.
Sharks are not on everyone’s list of cute and cuddy – having seen a few large sharks, the words would be “awe inspiring” and fascinating. It is hard to persuade people that sharks are not dangerous, they are still newsworthy. More people are killed by toasters in every country than by sharks in the whole world but any media person will tell you that a story about killer toasters or vacuum cleaners will not get past the editors, sharks eat people and there is a morbid fascination with that image. Even CSI which is normally accurate about sharks has episodes which portray the myth that sharks are killing machines that eat anything! As a person who has spent hours trying to feed scared captive sharks, I can personally assure everyone that sharks are normally very selective about their food. In the Green Connection and most aquariums around the world sharks are fed individually and rarely participate in the shark feeding show. There is no smiling mouth “There’s this idea that because these are widely ranging species, they’re more resilient to fishing pressure
Coastal species have more value for diving tourism but oceanic species while really important for the ecology of the open sea often have no human value except as a fishery.
Consumer action is required to reduce demand for shark fin soup and meat, in some countries or cities that will be a government enforced ban, in other places a change due to personal choice. Join Shark savers to help people make the choice to say no to shark fin soup and to help us persuade fisheries departments that management of a fishery includes the sharks because they have a unique role to play.