It's Shark Week and you know what that means: 24/7 coverage of some of the oceans' most alluring predators. But what you may not know is sharks are in danger from the world's most terrifying predators: humans.
Sharks are being fished faster than they can reproduce and their numbers are declining - and fast. Some U.S. hammerhead populations have dropped an alarming 98% in recent decades.
If we keep fishing at this rate, soon there will be no more sharks swimming in our waters and Shark Week will be our only chance to see these amazing creatures.
We want the U.S. government to limit fishing of the most threatened sharks. Speak up now to protect our sharks!
- Eric Schwaab, NOAA Fisheries
Sharks have been swimming the world’s oceans for more than 400 million years and play a vital role in maintaining the health of the oceans.
However, shark populations are in vast decline around the globe. Sharks are especially vulnerable to pressure from human activities because of their slow growth and low reproductive potential. Many shark populations have declined to levels where they are unable to perform their roles as top predators in the ecosystem, causing drastic and possibly irreversible damage to the oceans.
While the US has been a leader on shark finning measures, other U.S. efforts on sharks have fallen short. I find it appalling that vulnerable shark species are allowed to be caught by U.S. fishermen in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. For example, scalloped and great hammerheads, both which are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), can be caught and landed by U.S. fishermen. Tiger, smooth hammerhead and common thresher sharks are just three of the many more species that have experienced significant declines, are highly vulnerable to over-exploitation, and are in need of additional protections. The U.S. needs to update its list of prohibited species to include vulnerable species such as tiger, hammerhead and thresher sharks.
I encourage you to expeditiously move forward with new regulations to prohibit retention of vulnerable shark species.
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