01 Apr Sharks in Peril
We are emptying the ocean of sharks. Thankfully, divers are some of sharks’ closest and most influential allies. Project AWARE, together with all divers worldwide, are creating a powerful, collective voice to lead global grass-roots change. You’ve helped us secure a stronger EU finning ban and bring about safeguards for highly traded shark and ray species under CITES.
Here’s why your actions to protect sharks matter:
Nearly one out of four shark and ray species is classified by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as Threatened with extinction and ray species are found to be at higher risks than sharks. That doesn’t even include almost half of all sharks and ray species whose population status cannot be assessed because of lack of information.
Why do we worry about shark populations? A healthy and abundant ocean depends on predators like sharks keeping ecosystems balanced. And living sharks fuel local economies in some places, like Palau where sharks bring in an estimated $18 million per year through dive tourism.
They may rule the ocean, but sharks are vulnerable. They grow slowly, produce few young, and, as such, are exceptionally susceptible to overexploitation.
By-catch– or catching sharks incidentally while fishing for other commercial species – poses a significant threat to sharks. At the same time, new markets for shark products are blurring the line between targeted and accidental catches.
Finning– Shark fins usually fetch a much higher price than shark meat, providing an economic incentive for the wasteful and indefensible practice of “finning” (removing shark fins and discarding the often still alive shark at sea). Finning is often associated with shark overfishing, especially as keeping only the fins allows fishermen to kill many more sharks in a trip than if they were required to bring back the entire animal.
Shark fishing continues largely unregulated in most of the world’s ocean. Yet the future of sharks hinges on holding shark fishing and trade to sustainable levels. The best way to ensure an end to finning is to require that sharks are landed with their fins still “naturally” attached. Fishing limits must be guided by science and reflect a precautionary approach while trade must be controlled and monitored. Project AWARE is also investing in shark research and catch reporting, in order to protect vital shark habitats. We can lead change locally through innovative, results orientated action on the ground. And last, but most definitely not least, if you choose to eat seafood, refrain from a purchase unless you can be certain that it’s coming from a sustainable source.
If you want to learn more about sharks or the underwater environment, the PADI AWARE Specialties are a great way to do so!
Source: Project AWARE