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As one of the top ocean predators, sharks play an essential role in the food chain and help ensure balance in the ocean’s ecosystem. Increasing demand for their fins, pollution in our oceans and decreased breading has raised concerns regarding the status of sharks as a species. A world without sharks would have severe consequences for marine and freshwater ecosystems. They play a vital role in keeping our oceans healthy. By preying on the sick and old, they prevent the spread of disease and improves the gene pool. Sharks are also a large part of eco-tourism, and fisheries that promote their breeding provide jobs and incomes for communities. We need to prevent the extinction of these extraordinary creatures for the benefit of our oceans and future generations.
The Rising Threat
The world’s waters are home to an estimated 1,250 species of sharks, skates, and rays — one of the oldest and most diverse groups of animals on Earth. However, these remarkable animals are also highly vulnerable to overexploitation and are unsuitable for commercial fishing, because they have long life spans, are slow to reach reproductive age, and produce few young. In just the last few decades, some shark species have seen a decline in numbers around 80% due to the action of humans. Every year, humans kill an estimated 100 million sharks. Some are killed for their meat, livers, and fins while others are killed by discarded fishing nets and other marine debris. Many shark species could be wiped out by 2048. This disturbing trend could eventually lead to the collapse of many aquatic ecosystems worldwide. How can we end the decline of this essential species?
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Protecting Our Sharks
Despite the challenges to shark populations, we have made significant progress toward ending overfishing and rebuilding overfished stocks for long-term sustainability. Hatcheries are breeding sharks and then releasing them into the wild, leading to an upturn in their population. The United States is a leader in promoting the global conservation and management of sharks. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is working with regional fisheries management organizations and other international bodies for global shark conservation and management measures. Organizations are also collaborating with other countries on research aimed at achieving science-based management measures and conservation of sharks in our global ocean.
Stop Shark Finning
One of the most significant threats to Shark population is finning, the abhorrent and wasteful practice of cutting off a shark’s fins and discarding the body, often still alive, back into the ocean to drown or bleed to death. To stop the practice globally, we need to target what is driving the demand; shark fin soup. Shark fins are tempting targets for fishermen because they have high monetary and cultural value. Shark fin soup is a status symbol in Chinese culture. Historically, Chinese Emperors served the soup to honor guests because it was thought to have medicinal benefits. The demand for shark fin soup continues worldwide. In the US, groups are working to solve this issue in the US by proposing the US Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act HR 737. This ban can go a long way, but more international action is needed to save our oceans.
You Can Save Sharks
Sharks are worth far more alive than dead. A University of British Colombia study projects that shark ecotourism will be worth more than the global shark fisheries in just a few years. A National Geographic report estimates that a live hammerhead shark, over the course of its lifetime, is worth $1.6 million, which is a great deal higher than the $200 the dead shark can sell for. A recent study from the University of British Colombia projected that shark ecotourism will be worth more than the global shark fisheries in just a few years.
Shark preservation is similar to other ecological challenges like rainforest decline and large mammal poaching in that the local populations who profit from destroying and selling the resource would benefit far more if they preserved it. Education needs to go into local populations where fishermen live to show them what is possible Educating yourself and others on the importance of sharks for our global ecosystem can lead to the saving of a species. Sharks have gotten a bad rap in the past, and it is our job to inform others of the vital part they play in our world. We need to use all our resources to end their exploitation and sustain their populations. Every one of us can help sharks. Join DominoOne and Start now.