Washington, May 23 (IANS) As many as 16 out of 21 shark species are at a heightened risk of because they are being increasingly targeted, according to a study. The study was conducted by 15 scientists from 13 different research institutes, with additional contributions from scores of other scientists.
The increasing demand “shark fin soup”, considered a delicacy, driven by rapidly growing Asian economies, boils down to the fins being retained while carcasses are discarded. Frequently, discarded sharks and rays are not even recorded.
Sharks and rays are particularly vulnerable to over-fishing due to their tendency to take many years to become sexually mature and have relatively few offspring.
“Fishery managers and regional, national and international officials have the opportunity and the obligation to halt and reverse the rate of loss of biodiversity and ensure sharks and rays are exploited sustainably,” said the study’s co-author Nicholas Dulvy.
“The current rate of biodiversity loss is 10 to a hundred times greater than historic extinction rates, and as humans make increasing use of ocean resources it is possible that many more aquatic species, particularly sharks, are coming under threat,” added Dulvy.
“This does not have to be an inevitability. With sufficient public support and resulting political will, we can turn the tide.”
“The traditional view of oceanic sharks and rays as fast and powerful too often leads to a misperception that they are resilient to fishing pressure,” said Sonja Fordham, co-author of the paper.
These recommendations are published in the latest edition of Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.