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A bronze whaler shark. Image: Andrew Fox/Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions
Sharks often end up as bycatch in commercial fishing lines (it’s one of the biggest issues facing sharks) but new research is showing that even highly migratory species of sharks have little refuge in the open ocean from fishing fleets. As Phys recently reported, regional declines in abundance of some shark populations such as shortfin mako shark—the fastest shark in the sea—have led to widespread calls for catch limits in the high seas where there is currently little or no management for sharks.
What This Means: A global scientific effort has shown that about one-quarter of shark habitats fall within active fishing zones. The Indian Ocean and the North Atlantic had the highest overlap of shark populations and commercial fishing operations.
What’s A Shark to Do: The research published in the journal Nature explained that the results show that sharks don’t have many options when it comes to seeking refuge from fisheries. The authors of the study suggested creating protected areas around important shark hotspots as a global conservation effort.
Why This Matters: Even protected shark species like great whites had 50% of their range overlapping with commercial fishing. This means that international cooperation to protect shark species that live on the high seas should become a priority.
Go Deeper: Scientists at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Wachapreague are experimenting with tiny electrical fields that might be able to deter sharks from commercial longlines.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is the global authority when it comes to whether a species is at risk of extinction, yesterday added the North Atlantic Right Whale of the eastern U.S. to its list of Critically Endangered species (elevated from Endangered) that are on the brink of extinction. The IUCN also “upgraded” 13 different species of lemurs to the Critically Endangered list along with 20 other lemur species at risk of imminent extinction.
Why This Matters: These species are on the verge of going extinct not because of anything they did, but rather because of us humans.
We just love a tsunami with a happy ending! The Georgia Sea Turtle Center on St. Simons Island had been rehabilitating Tsunami, an endangered green sea turtle that was hit by a boat in 2017, for years with the hope of setting her free in the ocean. But her injuries were too severe to survive […]
By Will Gartshore, Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s an old aphorism that still rings painfully true today. Long before Covid-19, the three deadliest pandemics in human history—the bubonic plague, Spanish influenza and HIV/AIDS—claimed more lives than all the […]
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