Dakar, Senegal – The uncontrolled catching of sharks in West Africa may cause the extinction of some of the species, according to Mika Diop, Fisheries Biologist and Co-ordinator of the Sharks Sub-regional Action Plan (PSRA-Sharks).
“As there has been a strong development of fisheries for these species in the last 20 years for fins exported to Asia and for the meat consumed in Ghana and Nigeria, there are significant catches threatening the stocks,” Diop said here Tuesday, at the opening of a training workshop for technicians from eight African countries in Dakar.
According to the scientist, sharks capture has dropped since 2002 due to the development of traditional fisheries but also due to “the very particular biology of these species, marked by an extraordinary longevity, a very low fecundity and a very slow growth”.
He said about 100, 000 tonnes of sharks were captured annually in the West African sub-region, noting however there had been a reduction in catches.
“Lower captures stand now at 50% in West Africa, against the 90s figures.” Diop said, explaining for instance that catches in Senegal fell from 10, 000 tonnes to 7, 400 tonnes between 2001 and 2002.
On his part, Bernard Seret, Researcher at the Institute of Research for Development (IRD), said the development of sharks fisheries in West Africa was boosted by Asia’s growing demand for fins.
Denouncing the poor management of the resource, Seret called for harmonised rules in the sub-region.
“We can no longer allow the uncontrolled use of the resources because they do not only belong to the fishermen but also to humanity,” he warned.
Sharks are described as the sea policemen as they don’t have any predators and are only threatened by fishing activities.
Even though there is a sub-regional action plan on the conservation and sustainable management of sharks species, experts said only Senegal and Guinea had so far adopted them.