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.
A global effort
Silky, thresher, and hammerhead sharks have a chance at recovery thanks to international cooperation
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When members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meet in September, they will consider new trade protections for 13 shark and ray species. Read More
The WCPFC will hold its 12th Regular Session from Dec. 3 to 8 in Bali, Indonesia, and Pew has identified 11 ways that members can improve management of tuna fisheries in the western and central Pacific Ocean. Read More
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has a mandate to manage all highly migratory fish stocks, including tuna and sharks, in the western and central Pacific Ocean. Despite strong scientific and management advice to the Commission, the conservation and management measures (CMMs) now in place are inadequate to end or prevent overfishing of some stocks. For example, two of... Read More