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Report: Human Activities Threaten Survival Of Sharks Worldwide; 'Targeted Everywhere In The World'

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sharks have thrived in the world's oceans for more than 400 million years, but a comprehensive new report released today by Oceana and WildAid reveals that the world's shark populations have been devastated by human activities. The new report, entitled "End of the Line," shows how the global demand for shark products, and in particular shark fin soup, has prompted gruesome and wasteful fishing practices that could effectively lead to their extinction.

Long recognized as the top predators in marine ecosystems, sharks now have their own predator, humans. Shark populations are highly vulnerable to man's fishing practices because they are generally slow-growing and long-lived, with females producing few offspring late in life. Sharks have long provided a source of protein, but now it is the rapid increase in demand for shark fin soup, unproven medicinal treatments, and cosmetics that is decimating shark populations. "Humans are pushing shark species to extinction with devastating impacts on the ocean ecosystem," said Elizabeth Griffin, marine wildlife scientist at Oceana. "There is just no way for these species to withstand the direct pressure of man's voracious fishing practices."

A primary example of the new global consumer demand for sharks can be found in shark fin soup. Once a rarely consumed delicacy in China, shark fin soup has become commonplace at important events such as weddings, birthdays and corporate functions. Sadly, this dish has fostered the cruel and wasteful practice of finning. Finning uses only 1-5 percent of the shark's body weight as it is hauled on deck, its fins sliced off, and the shark - sometimes still alive - is thrown back into the sea to bleed to death.

"In the last few decades, not only have shark populations been decimated by unregulated industrialized fishing, but the market for shark fin has exploded from a few million wealthy people in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan to up to tens of millions in China alone," said Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid, the group that compiled the report. "This means that sharks are now targeted everywhere in the world and that they are being poached from marine reserves and the waters of other countries."

End of the Line also identifies bycatch as a significant threat to the future of shark species. Each year, as many sharks are caught and killed as bycatch in commercial fisheries targeting other species as are killed in fisheries targeting sharks. Estimates suggest that tens of millions sharks are caught as bycatch each year and the majority of these sharks are finned, essentially creating black market fisheries for shark fins.The report concludes that an immediate global effort is necessary to identify and implement the steps necessary to save sharks from extinction. The solution must include a combination of actions, including improvements in current shark finning laws, reduction of consumer demand, and additional research on shark species.

"After more than 400 million years, the sad reality is time is running out for sharks," continued Griffin. "Saving sharks requires immediate and collective action, starting with leadership from the United States to improve its existing shark finning laws."

A copy of the "End of the Line" report is available at

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

8 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

It's funny how none of the "rednecks" and "captain's" that post comments on all the stories regarding fisherman hooking big sharks care to comment on stories like this. I guess when your uneducated it's best to hide and not say anything at all when your proven wrong!
   comment# 1   - Brendan Maas · Philadelphia, PA · Nov 12, 2007 @ 11:01am

Once again B.M. you have to resort to insults. This story quotes 2 sources Elizabeth Griffin a marine wildlife scientist at Oceana and Peter Knight director of Wildaid. Both of these people have stated that the Asian markets for shark fin soup and commercial fishing by catches are the cause for the sharks demise. No where did they state anything about sport fishermen. They even called on the U.S. to "improve" it's existing shark finning laws.They also mention that more research on shark species is needed. I respect their comments and I am glad to see they state that stopping poaching and black markets is needed to help the sharks plight. Once again there was no mention of LEGAL sport fishing. You my more than intelligent tree hugger have once again put your shoe in your mouth.Keep on fishing it's great family sport!!!!!!!!!
   comment# 2   - Robert Rolin · Onalaska ,Texas · Nov 13, 2007 @ 6:26pm

Robert Rolin, you are not bright enough to understand my point in my first comment. I understand what the article said, and who they were blaming for the continued slaughter and eventual collapse of sharks as a species. Why, because I can read, just read the last sentence of your post... is that proper English? Can you even read? You are a joke, and nobody on this site takes you seriously! When you can't even put together a proper, cohesive English sentence, your credibility is destroyed. Who is going to take your comments seriously...? You can't write, let alone give anybody any insight to the plight of our oceans, so just zip it up bud! To defend myself in regards to your off base post, what that article obviously should lead everyone who cares and benefits from our oceans to understand. Is this, our sharks are in such a perile state of emergency, that every single large mature shark is absolutely critical to this creatures survival. So your right, Rod and Reel fishing is not responsible directly for this animals plight to extinction, but it's reached a point where no mature large shark should be killed for sport! It's that simple you moron. So it's funny how all you uneducated rednecks, like yourself, are constantly telling us more educated "tree huggers" that sharks are "abundant" and "not threatened" when we criticize the sportsmen that kill them in some of the articles posted on this site.
   comment# 3   - Brendan Maas · Philadelphia, PA · Nov 14, 2007 @ 6:44am

I see you got your panties in a ruffle again B.M. It's quite obvious there pulled up way to tight by the way your spewing insults, ranting and raving. I can see that you can read because your SO educated but you dont comprehend very much of what you read thats for sure. If your so worried about the plight of sharks,y ou should spend more of your time protesting commercial fishing companies and any Country or Government that supports finning. If you were serious about your own convictions you wouldn't spend so much time on here worrying about sportfishing and insulting people who fish legally. BM you obviously have some mental problems and seeing how fanatical you are I'm sure your being monitored. Does your computer take a little longer to come on,or have you noticed any buzzing in your phone? Get some professional help BM, you need it. The vast majority of Sport fishermen obey all the laws, size and bag limits set by OUR wildlife agencies. We also contribute the majority of finances for research, conservation and re-stocking for not only Our coastal waters but also OUR fresh water lakes and rivers. I know a few biologist that work for federal wildlife departments and, just guessing, I think their a little more educated than you on the subjects at hand. May be just a little because you are sure one educated tree hugger. More then intelligent.Keep on fishing!
   comment# 4   - Robert Rolin · Onalaska ,Texas · Nov 14, 2007 @ 3:38pm

I'm done arguing with you about this. You clearly don't get it and understand very little about the seriousness of what is happening to our oceans. But maybe I can help you with your English at the very least. Maybe is one word nit wit. It's not May be. HAHA. On your next fishing trip, take a dictionary with you redneck!
   comment# 5   - Brendan Maas · Philadelphia, PA · Nov 30, 2007 @ 11:27am

Thanks for the grammar lesson BM. You are so very intelligent. It's just sad that fanatical whackos like you don't use your time and efforts on the real culprits and issues. Try going fishing and having a Life. Oh but you would have to get out and leave your computer. Keep on fishing folks it's great family sport!
   comment# 6   - Robert Rolin · Onalaska ,Texas · Dec 4, 2007 @ 3:20pm

Whilst you two have been agruing like a pair of old women another 10,000 sharks have been slaughtered ! Its great to see such energy but it needs to be directed in the right manner, what about towards chinese resturants in your home town that are serving the evil that is "shark fin soup" ? I am now purposely ordering my food at these resturants and walking out after it has been served and I have made sure the manager is aware why. Its such a cruel and needless reason to destroy an entire species. And yes for that reason alone I will "china bash" So boycott the Olypics, resturants and anything else you can think of. And when people ask why you hate China so much make sure you tell them. This scat really needs to stop NOW because it will be too late very very soon.
   comment# 7   - Paul · Reading, UK · Jan 17, 2008 @ 4:03pm

I couldn't agree with you more Paul. What ridiculousness with those to having a lovers quarrel. Sharks are being slaughtered by the thousands. I don't even eat much fish to begin with, however, it is sad that all fish soon will be extinct if things don't turn around.
   comment# 8   - Scott · Plymouth, USA · Mar 25, 2009 @ 2:16pm
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