“Killing sharks is ocean vandalism,” Jessica Meeuwig, head of the Marine Futures Lab at the University of Western Australia and a close collaborator of the Sea Around Us and the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean, told journalists following reports of a 395-kilogram tiger shark having been caught by a recreational fishing crew during a competition off the coast of Sydney.
Shark and ray species commonly caught in the Mediterranean and Black seas are not being reported in official statistics, new research from the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia shows.
A new study published in Marine Policy reveals that 97 per cent of the sharks and rays caught and brought to market domestically by fleets from the European, North African and Middle Eastern countries that surround these seas are not reported by species.
Populations of some shark species such as hammerhead and oceanic whitetip have declined by over 90 per cent in recent years largely because of wealthy consumers’ growing appetite for fin soup, a new paper in Marine Policy states.
The study by researchers from the University of Hong Kong, the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia and WildAid Hong Kong, reveals that since fishing pressure on threatened shark populations has increased dramatically in recent years, it is urgent for consumers to stop demanding shark fin products.
Text and photos by Madeline Cashion.
This summer/fall I spoke at three marine research conferences hosted in three very different cities. I was presenting the first chapter of my thesis, for which I analyzed the quality of official fisheries catch statistics for sharks, skates, and rays in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Over half of the species in this group of fishes are at risk of extinction in the region, with overfishing being their greatest threat.
New research supports the creation of more marine reserves in the world’s oceans because, the authors say, fish can evolve to be more cautious and stay away from fishing nets.
The research suggests that by creating additional “no-take” areas, some fish will stay within marine reserves where they are protected from fishing. While other fish will move around the ocean, these less mobile fish will continue to live in the protected areas, pass this behaviour on to their offspring, and contribute to future generations, increasing the overall stock.