Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sharks in Trouble

I'm new to blogging, but I've been thinking about it for awhile. I'm feeling helpless against the tide of global climate change, extinctions, and loss of marine biodiversity. I laid awake last night worrying about the status of Hammerhead shark populations. (See link to BBC article.)

I want to share my passion for sharks with the larger internet world, in the hopes that my knowledge and perspective might educate, enlighten, and inspire you to conservation. The more I learn about sharks, the more I am amazed. The more I explore their world, the more I learn about their behaviour, the greater my respect.

Please see the link below. BBC reported on the addition of the Scalloped Hammerhead, Sphyrna lewini, as globally endangered on the IUCN (World Conservation Union) Red List. This was reported at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Boston. 233 species of sharks are currently on the Red List, with 12 spp. listed as criticially endangered, and 9 spp. to be added this year alone.

The largest threat to shark populations is overfishing for fins and liver. Finning is the excessively wasteful and cruel practice of slicing off the dorsal, pectoral, and caudal fins and then just dumping the shark back in the water. The shark is still alive after finning and slowly drowns after being dumped. We're decimating populations merely to make shark fin soup.

In international waters, shark fisheries are entirely unregulated. Even in national waters, very few countries protect shark populations. For the ones who do, it is extremely difficult to enforce those regulations. Shark species that are protected in one country's waters easily disperse into other waters where they may not be protected. We must create Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in international waters to protect the world's shark populations. Before it is too late.