Working with government leaders, scientists, fisheries experts, diplomats, and even survivors of shark attacks, Pew works to highlight the plight of sharks from overfishing and to urge countries to take action to conserve them.
Sharks have roamed our oceans since before the time of dinosaurs, but their long reign at the top of the ocean food chain may be ending. The onset of industrial fishing over the past 60 years has drastically depleted their populations. Of the shark and ray species assessed by scientists for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), nearly 50 percent are threatened or near-threatened with extinction.
Every year approximately 100 million sharks are killed in commercial fisheries. The catch of shark for their fins, meat, liver oil, cartilage, and other parts remains largely unregulated in most of the world, driving some populations toward extinction.
In general, sharks grow slowly, mature late and produce few young over long lifetimes, leaving them exceptionally vulnerable to overexploitation and slow to recover from depletion. As key predators, their depletion also has risks for the health of entire ocean ecosystems. For example, tiger sharks have been linked to the quality of seagrass beds through their prey, dugongs and green sea turtles, which forage in these beds. Without tiger sharks to control their prey’s foraging, an important habitat is lost.
Pew has identified the present moment as a critical time to reverse the global decline of shark populations. We work internationally to influence the fishing nations and treaty organizations that regulate high seas fisheries. In addition, we work with nations whose waters still have diverse populations of sharks to declare shark sanctuaries and to advocate for international shark conservation.
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On April 6 and 7, government officials from across Micronesia gathered for a workshop in Palikir, Federated States of Micronesia, to explore how to ensure the enforcement of the Micronesia Regional Shark Sanctuary, as well as to discuss larger fisheries management challenges, including illegal, unreported, and unregulated vessels. Read More
Shark sanctuaries are useful tools for coastal and island governments seeking to reduce shark mortality in theirwaters. At least 100 million sharks are killed in commercial fisheries every year. Sanctuary designations typicallyprohibit the commercial fishing of all sharks, the retention of sharks caught as bycatch, and the possession, trade,and sale of sharks and shark products within a... Read More
Momentum continues to build for the conservation of certain shark and ray species, with good news coming out of the February meeting of the governments that have signed on to the Sharks Memorandum of Understanding from the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). Read More