Why Sharks Are So Important
The Shark Fin Trade
Without the assistance of governments, communities and individuals, many shark species are at significant risk of becoming extinct. Shark extinction would cause a total ecosystem collapse – on a scale we have never seen before. Being the apex predators, sharks keep our oceans in balance. If sharks disappeared, other ocean animal populations would multiply unchecked, upsetting a delicate food chain. As a simple example, if great white sharks went away, seal populations would explode. The seals would need to eat a significantly higher amount of fish to sustain the new population, lowering the overall level of available fish in the oceans for fishing and other species. Eventually, humans might no longer be able to rely on the oceans for food.
Shark survival also makes economic sense. Ecotourism (like shark diving) provides many jobs and more income than that of the commercial fin trade. With the assistance of governments worldwide, as well as individuals doing their part by making personal changes and helping fund conservation and research, we can work to protect the future of our fragile planet.
Despite being around since before dinosaurs, shark populations are decreasing faster than ever with approximately 400 million sharks killed EVERY year due to finning, commercial and recreational fishing or bycatch. (when the shark wasn't the intended target but dies anyway).
The Shark Research Institute estimates 100,000,000 sharks are killed each year. Many sharks are killed for their fins. The sharks are caught, their fins removed and they are often thrown back to die.
Commercial fishing also kills many sharks. Thankfully, new global regulations are starting to protect some of the more endangered species, but there is still a long way to go to protect these creatures.
Bycatch is a particular problem for sharks since most cannot breathe without constant motion, and they suffocate when caught in nets. Oceana estimates Dusky shark populations have declined 85% because of bycatch and estimate over 12 million sharks and rays are caught each year as bycatch!
We need to start making better choices to protect these magnificent and essential animals.