scuba diver and whale shark underwater

Archived Project

Global Shark Conservation

Each year, at least 63 million and as many as 273 million sharks are killed in the world’s commercial fisheries, many solely for their fins, which are used in shark fin soup. More than 30 percent of the shark species and their relatives assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are threatened with extinction.

Sharks are vital to ocean health. Protection and management of these species provide ecosystem, environmental, cultural, and economic benefits. To reverse the decline of sharks and rays, Pew worked internationally to influence fishing nations and the treaty organizations that regulate high seas fisheries and trade in endangered species. We also worked with governments to designate sanctuaries in waters that still have diverse populations of sharks and to advocate regionally and internationally for shark conservation. Pew will continue to work internationally to reduce the bycatch of species, including sharks, in fisheries and advocate for measures to conserve biodiversity.

PROJECT SUCCESSES OVER 10 YEARS:
  • Secured trade regulations through the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) for 38 commercially important shark and ray species.
  • Helped establish 17 shark sanctuaries around the world and worked with various governments to develop other national management measures for sharks.
  • Secured more than a dozen measures to protect sharks and rays through regional fisheries management organizations.
  • Trained and armed more than 70 governments with identification tools in order to prevent illegal trade of protected species.
  • Enlisted more than 100 prominent Chinese companies to agree not to serve shark fin products at official functions.
  • Worked with Hong Kong government to strengthen its penalties on commercial and noncommercial trade of endangered species, including raising the maximum prison sentence for illegal trade to 10 years, and maximum fines to $1.3 million (HK$10 million). 
Shortfin Mako Shark
Shortfin Mako Shark
Press Releases & Statements

Pew Applauds New Shark and Ray Trade Regulations

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Press Releases & Statements

Pew Applauds New Shark and Ray Trade Regulations

The Pew Charitable Trusts today commended the decision by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to regulate the trade in 18 species of sharks and rays whose populations are depleted.

Shark Sanctuary
Shark Sanctuary
Fact Sheet

Shark Sanctuaries Around the World

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Fact Sheet

Shark sanctuaries are useful tools for coastal and island governments seeking to reduce shark mortality in their waters. At least 100 million sharks are killed in commercial fisheries every year. Sanctuary designations typically prohibit 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 country’s full exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Some also ban fishing gear typically used to target sharks, such as wire leaders and shark lines. Because of the role that sharks play in maintaining ocean health, protecting them with sanctuaries provides ecosystem, environmental, cultural, and economic benefits.

Video

CITES in Action: Implementing Trade Protections for Sharks

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Video

CITES in Action: Implementing Trade Protections for Sharks

For years, international demand for shark fins and lack of management drove shark populations to the brink. But 2013 was a turning point for sharks, when governments around the world voted to regulate commercially traded sharks for the first time.

Our Work