Global Shark Conservation

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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.

Fact Sheet

Shark Sanctuaries Around the World

Shark sanctuaries are useful tools for coastal and island governments seeking to reduce shark...

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Our Work

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  • Shark Dive Tourism Is Big Business in The Bahamas

    A recent study published in the journal Biological Conservation  has found that sharks and rays contributed US$114 million to the Bahamian economy in 2014, with 99 percent of this value generated by the shark and ray tourism sector. The new research contributes to a growing recognition that shark conservation provides significant economic benefits in addition to critical conservation value. Read More

  • Shark Conservation Sees Global Gains in 2016

    To stay alive and keep oxygen flowing through their gills, some shark species must swim constantly. That’s pretty much how The Pew Charitable Trusts’ shark conservation team felt throughout 2016 as we spanned the globe—from the U.S. and the Caribbean to China, Africa, and remote Pacific islands—securing major policy wins to protect numerous species of the megafauna that... Read More

  • ICCAT at a Crossroads

    The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) marked its 50th anniversary last month by furthering member commitments to overhauling management of key fish stocks following scientific advice, an approach that could help to secure the long-term sustainability of valuable Atlantic fisheries. Still, member nations failed to take urgently needed steps to set... Read More

Implementing New Shark Protections Worldwide

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Media Contact

Barbara Cvrkel

Officer, Communications

202.540.6535