Sharks inhabited the oceans 200 million years before dinosaurs appeared. But now, just 50 years after industrialized fishing began, many of these vulnerable species may not survive this century.
With no limits on the number of sharks that can be caught in international waters, commercial fishing operations, spurred on by consumers willing to pay $300 a pound for fins, kill up to 73 million sharks a year to support the shark fin trade. Crews often cut off the fins and throw the sharks back into the water to die. These creatures are biologically sensitive, generally reproducing late in life and bearing few offspring, and do not have the biological capacity to rebound from intense commercial fishing.