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November 15, 2011

Save Our Sharks

BY: Angela Pauly



Did you know that only 1% of the highly migratory sharks reported caught in the Atlantic are protected from overfishing by ICCAT?

Did you know that 75% of the highly migratory sharks caught in ICCAT fisheries are classified as threatened in parts of the Atlantic by the IUCN?

Those aren’t the kinds of numbers anyone likes to see – which is why our team is in Istanbul this week working hard to protect these magnificent creatures. Sharks, which act somewhat like the lions of the sea, play a vital role in the marine ecosystem. What do we mean by “lions of the sea”? Well, as top predators, sharks are at the top of the marine food web, they cull the sick and weak animals, ensuring that the stronger and healthier individuals survive. The size of their population is kept in check by the fact that they are slow growing and have very slow reproductive rates – two things that make them very vulnerable to overfishing. That’s the problem, remove (by overfishing) the sharks from the food web, and there is a direct impact on the larger structure and function of marine communities.

Let’s cross our fingers and hope that the ICCAT negotiations favor the sharks, because protecting them is a necessity, not a luxury.

If you are interested in learning more about vulnerable sharks in the Atlantic ocean, we’ve just released a report on that very topic – click here