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.
Protecting shark populations
Ministers call on world leaders to protect 13 shark and ray species
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The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s 2016 World Conservation Congress runs from Sept. 1-10 in Honolulu. The IUCN gathering will bring together thousands of government leaders and decision-makers from around the world, island and indigenous peoples, and environmental advocates, including experts from Pew. Attendees aim to address the global challenges facing the environment. Read More
After Typhoon Haiyan devastated Malapascua in the Philippines, thresher shark tourism helped this island rebuild. Now, islanders are hoping to return the favor by advocating for trade protections for vulnerable thresher sharks. A CITES Appendix II listing would ensure these sharks are traded responsibly and not fished to extinction. It would also help ensure that these sharks don’t... Read More
Four species of sharks and nine species of rays are one step closer to gaining critical protections after 17 African nations committed at a regional workshop in late July to support restrictions on international trade of the animals. Read More