August 5, 2013 - Quiz: What's Your Shark Personality?
August 5, 2013 - Seven Conservation Wins for Each Day of Discovery's Shark Week
July 11, 2013 - Pacific Leaders Call for Oceanwide Shark Protections
June 27, 2013 - U.S. Proposal Could Weaken Shark Conservation Laws
Sharks have roamed our oceans since before the time of dinosaurs, but their long reign at the top of the ocean food chain may be ending. The onset of industrial fishing over the past 60 years has drastically depleted their populations. Of the shark and ray species assessed by scientists for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 30 percent are threatened or near-threatened with extinction.
Shark finning–the practice of catching a shark, slicing off its fins and then discarding the body at sea–takes a tremendous toll on shark populations. Up to 73 million sharks are killed every year to primarily support the global shark fin industry, valued for the Asian delicacy shark fin soup.
In general, sharks grow slowly, mature late and produce few young over long lifetimes, leaving them exceptionally vulnerable to overexploitation and slow to recover from depletion. As key predators, their depletion also has risks for the health of entire ocean ecosystems. For example, tiger sharks have been linked to the quality of seagrass beds through their prey, dugongs and green sea turtles, which forage in these beds. Without tiger sharks to control their prey’s foraging, an important habitat is lost.
Pew has identified the present moment as a critical time to reverse the global decline of shark populations. We will work internationally with our coalition allies to influence the fishing nations and treaty organizations that regulate high seas fisheries. In addition, we will work with nations whose waters still have diverse populations of sharks to declare shark sanctuaries and to advocate for international shark conservation.
View an interactive map of our global shark conservation work.