IN 2014 STUDIES CARRIED OUT BY SPECIALISTS AND 5 OF THE WORLDS LEADING MARINE SCIENCE BODIES ESTIMATE THAT BETWEEN 63 MILLION AND 273 MILLION SHARKS ARE KILLED EVERY YEAR.
273 MILLION......THATS A POSSIBLE MAXIMUM OF 9 SHARKS EVERY SINGLE SECOND.
This astronomical number means that currently over a third of all shark species are threatened with extinction, and in the last 50 years alone some populations have plummeted by over 90% with species such as Oceanic Whitetips, Spurdogs and Hammerheads depleted by as much as 99% in some parts of the ocean.
In a little over 50 years, the systematic global slaughter of sharks has risen dramatically; by 400 per cent to approx. 800,000 metric tons per year - and this is only the recorded catches, many are not reported and the actual annual amount is in all likelihood much higher.
Phil: "We are systematically eliminating large predators such as Swordfish, Tuna and Shark from our planet. In the current generations lifetime - say 20 or 30 years, they may all disappear due to destructive fishing practices and the consuming greed of humans. Meaning they will be Extinct - gone forever. There will be no coming back from this, it will have disastrous consequences for ecosystems and of course we have no idea what kind of effect this will have for us in the future."
SO WHY HAS THIS BECOME SUCH A PROBLEM?
Sharks have roamed our seas as apex predators for over 400 million years, and throughout this time they have become immensely well adapted to their respective environments. The term Apex predator means that they prey on other creatures beneath them in the food chain for their survival, and sit right at the top (or apex) of this intricate energy web.
Due to this Sharks play an extremely important role within marine ecosystems; they are essential to the health of the oceans, driving evolution in fish species through predation, regulating fish, squid, pinniped and crustacean populations, and removing diseased and less viable animals from ecosystems.
In short; Sharks maintain the critical balance of the oceans and have done so longer than any other Apex predator our planet has EVER seen.
Eliminating sharks from ocean systems has disastrous effects, including the degradation of coral reefs and the collapse of commercial fisheries. Ecosystems with healthy shark populations actually have higher numbers of fish than those with unnaturally low shark populations; though it may seem counter intuitive for a large predator to increase numbers of fish, this happens because of the complex way sharks maintain the balance between different species.
We need sharks for healthy seas!
It is due to their role as Apex predators that sharks are incredibly susceptible to overfishing.
One of the things that is often overlooked by consumers is that sharks reproduce differently to other fish and cannot be caught at the same rates as other species without serious ramifications. Rather than laying thousands or millions of eggs as most other fish do, many shark species are extremely slow to mature and can take up to fifteen/twenty years to reach sexual maturity, and often then only produce one or two pups per year, with long gaps (often 3-5 years - or much longer in Deep sea sharks) between mating.
Fish Eggs - HUNDREDS on a rock.
Endangered Porbeagle shark embryos
Lemon shark in the womb.
Such a fragile and slow reproduction rate in many species means that their populations are especially sensitive to disturbances such as over fishing and at the current rate of removal and consumption simply will not survive.