While many fans of sharks know that shark populations are on the decline (because of activities like overfishing and shark finning), it’s important for policy-makers to have an accurate estimate of the overall shark population, and how fast that population is growing (or not growing). For groups like the CITES committee to be able to make recommendations for the future, they need estimations that show how human activities affect sharks under the regulations that exist today.
Earlier today, a study published in the journal Marine Policy reviewed the statistics from nearly 100 publications about shark catches and shark mortality rates, and came up with some very stark numbers:
- There are an estimated 63 to 273 million sharks killed every year.
- This figure includes fishing directly for sharks, sharks that were finned and discarded, and sharks that were caught as bycatch.
These numbers don’t mean very much without more context, so the authors of the study compared the exploitation rate of the sharks (the proportion of the shark population removed by fishing) to the rebound rate (the proportion of the shark population grown by reproduction). The estimations for the overall exploitation rate were between 6.4% and 7.9%, and the average rebound rate for the shark species was 4.9%.
So how fast are sharks disappearing? The answer: 1 out of every 15 sharks dies each year from fishing.
What can you do about it? Let other people know. The more people who understand the rate at which sharks are being fished and killed, the more people recognize the need for studies and protections. Groups like the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy exist to create awareness that sharks are an important part of life on earth, and require action to preserve them before they become extinct.
For more info: The statistics in this post come from the paper “Global catches, exploitation rates, and rebuilding options for sharks”, as summarized by David Shiffman in the Southern Fried Science blog.