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.
Each year, between 63 million to 273 million sharks are killed in the world’s 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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In the latest in a series of global workshops to train fisheries, customs, and environment officials on how to best implement international wildlife trade measures, 31 participants from 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries gathered Nov. 15-16 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Specifically, the delegates were honing best practices for meeting their commitments under the Convention on... Read More
When the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meets Nov. 14-22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, the fate of the valuable Atlantic bluefin tuna and the vulnerable shortfin mako shark will hang in the balance. Although ICCAT’s 51 member governments focus mostly on tunas, they also make decisions about other species, such as sharks, that are often caught in association... Read More
A team of U.S.- and Hong Kong-based scientists completed a survey of the species composition of the shark fin trade in Hong Kong. Their findings provide the most comprehensive estimate to date of the high number of species, many of which are threatened with extinction, that are found in the global shark fin trade. Read More