One third of sharks now threatened

The commercial fishing fleets are yet another industry that never quite knows when to say when. They drag up half of the ocean regardless of whether it was intended or not. Over this way, the Mediterranean is a wasteland with few of the previous tuna or swordfish left. At one time is also used to be full or sharks including a few of the largest ever caught but those days are long gone.

As a kid I loved fishing but as I grow older it bothers me to chase fish that are in such heavy decline. Sharks used to annoy me when fishing or make me nervous when in the sea but the more encounters that I’ve had with them in the sea (especially off the coast of southern Africa) the more I’ve come to appreciate them. It’s not that I don’t get a jolt seeing them under water where they look larger than they actually are, but they’re amazing creatures. In Cape Town I swam in the shark tank with a few ragged tooth sharks that weighed hundreds of kilos (sand tigers in America, I think). I sat on the bottom of the tank and was in awe of their sleek design as they glided by a few feet above my head.

A day later I went in the tank with an old fashioned copper helmet and the experience was completely different for both of us. They didn’t really care when I had scuba gear but with the copper helmet they were attracted to the radio inside the helmet so they kept swimming up to me to investigate. I think my heart stopped beating the first time they approached but again, they are really something to see in the water. Later in Mozambique I bumped in to a few other sharks including the wild looking guitar shark. Onto the disturbing news.

Overfishing threatens to drive a third of the world’s open-ocean shark species to extinction, say conservationists. Hammerheads, giant devil rays and porbeagle sharks are among 64 species on the first ever red list for oceanic sharks produced by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

Sharks are vulnerable because they can take decades to mature and they produce few young. The scalloped hammerhead shark, which has declined by 99% over the past 30 years in some parts of the world, is particularly vulnerable and has been given globally endangered status on the red list, which means it is nearing extinction. In the Gulf of Mexico, the oceanic whitetip shark has declined by a similar amount.

Scientists estimate that shark populations in the north-west Atlantic Ocean have declined by an average of 50% since the early 1970s.

An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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