Newswise — NEW YORK (July 7, 2021) – “Shark Week” kicked off on July 11th, and just in time, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has released five facts you probably did not know about shark conservation to raise awareness about this imperiled group of fishes and what’s being done to protect them. Globally sharks are in trouble due to overfishing, but there are signs of hope that the conservation and global community are coming together to protect these important predators.
Said Luke Warwick, Director of WCS’s Sharks and Rays Program: “Many people still perceive sharks negatively, but in reality sharks have much more to fear from humans who are overfishing sharks globally pushing many species to the edge of extinction. The good news is that there is a growing global movement that recognizes that sharks are vulnerable and their fisheries need to be managed in a sustainable way.”
- Sharks are Vanishing – There are more than 1,000 species of sharks and close relatives rays, and they are one of the most imperiled groups of wildlife in the world. This is due primarily to overfishing, in fisheries that target these species for their meat or fins, or incidental bycatch in fisheries for other species. Their late maturity, slow growth rates, and low birth rates makes them particularly vulnerable to overfishing. Once depleted, it can take some species decades to recover, even after fishing stops.
- Some Countries are Leading the World in Protecting Sharks – Slowly, nations are recognizing sharks are vulnerable and are doing something about it. Indonesia and Gabon have protected manta rays and whale sharks; Gabon, Mozambique, and Bangladesh have protected sawfish and wedgefish; and India and Gabon have fully banned all trade in shark fins.
- Indigenous Peoples and Small-scale Fishers are Key to Saving Sharks – In some parts of the world – especially the global tropics – sharks provide an important source of protein. This means careful approaches are needed in these locations, to manage small-scale subsistence fisheries for sharks and rays, and ensure they don’t drive species to extinction. For example, rights-based approaches can be crucial, and Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia are leading the way in these efforts.
- A New York Speedster Needs Help – The shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus), found in New York and the North Atlantic, is the fastest shark on the planet, able to swim up to 45 miles per hour. It is also facing a critical conservation moment because of overfishing. To help this iconic species – listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List – recover within the next few decades, scientists are recommending a complete ban on the retention of shortfin mako sharks in all commercial and recreational fisheries. As a global leader in shark conservation, the U.S. needs to step up now in support of this retention ban.
WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society)
MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: newsroom.wcs.org Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242.