Pew, MarViva Launch Shark Conservation Effort in Panama

Local supporters of shark conservation in Panama joined the MarViva Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts today to launch an effort to establish permanent protections for sharks in that nation's waters.

Panama is home to more than 40 species of sharks, the majority of which are threatened or near threatened with extinction, according to the Red List of Threatened Species issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN.

Overfishing of sharks in Panama's waters for the past 30 years has resulted in a noticeable decline in adult shark populations. For example, the majority of hammerhead sharks caught in Panama are newborns or juveniles that have not had the opportunity to reproduce. The scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini), one of the most recognizable of shark species, is also one of the most endangered globally and subject to targeted and illegal fishing throughout the world.

Learn more about shark sanctuaries:

shrk-booklet-image-150-lw

Recognizing this, parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, extended protections to scalloped hammerheads, two other species of hammerheads, oceanic whitetip sharks, and porbeagle sharks by listing them in Appendix II of the treaty earlier this year. When these new listings take effect on Sept. 14, 2014, the international trade of these species will require CITES permits that confirm the animals have been fished sustainably and legally.

Worldwide, up to 100 million sharks are killed annually in commercial fisheries. Sharks are exceptionally vulnerable to overexploitation. In general, they grow slowly, mature late, and produce few young over long lifetimes. Those traits leave them slow to recover from depletion.

Sharks play an important role in maintaining the balance of the ocean environment. As top predators, they regulate the variety and abundance of species below them in the food chain, including commercially important fish species. Sharks also help to maintain healthy marine habitats, such as coral reefs. Declines in their populations therefore could harm the broader marine ecosystem.

Pew is working in Panama with MarViva, a nongovernmental organization promoting the conservation and sustainable use of coastal and marine ecosystems in the region.

Spotlight on Mental Health

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies

Explore

Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.