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Shark Attack: The Demise of a Deep Sea Predator

Posted July 16, 2008 12:01 AM by SavvyExacta

Some species of sharks are disappearing at speeds 10 to 100 times greater than any extinction rate in the history books. Recently, 21 shark and ray species were studied to determine if they are indeed threatened. Now that the results are in, experts have determined that, according to Biology-blog.com, 16 of the 21 species being "caught in high seas fisheries are at heightened risk of extinction due primarily to targeted fishing for valuable fins and meat".

For a majority of these shark species, the main reason for the decline is unregulated fishing, which is caused mainly by an increased demand for shark-fin soup in Asia. The types of sharks affected include tiger, bull, and scalloped hammerhead. The scalloped hammerhead shark will be on the 2008 World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List because of over-fishing. The great hammerhead shark was placed on the list last year; its numbers in the eastern Atlantic Ocean have declined by 80% in the past 25 years.

Google and Government

Web sites abound from a Google search on the phrase "shark fishing". There are 916,000 results to be exact, and plenty of grisly images, too. Shark fishing is legal in Florida and incidental shark fishing (non-specific targeting) is legal most everywhere else. Nevertheless, there are many illegal shark-hunting businesses that either promise customers a thrilling day at sea, or just want to make money from an illicit catch.

In response, the United States Congress may increase shark protection via the Shark Conservation Act of 2008 (H.R. 5741). The proposed legislation would make it illegal to remove the fins of a shark at sea, a ban designed to deter "finning" – the practice of cutting off a shark's fins and leaving the body in the water. Taking just the fins is easier for fisherman because they don't have to store the sharks and can take much larger quantities of their "cargo". Under the proposed legislation, vessels could no longer transport such fins either, making it more difficult for only a shark's fins to arrive at their destination.

If the proposed legislation becomes law, it will take some time before the Shark Conservation Act of 2008 stops the practice of poachers. It will also take time for the sharks to repopulate since they have relatively few offspring after reaching maturity. Apart from over-fishing and their accidental by-catch by humans, sharks have no natural predators unless they're sick or injured. If the shark population is allowed to recover, however, the many species of this ocean predator may be able to regain their normal numbers.

Resources:

http://www.biology-blog.com/blogs/permalinks/5-2008/over-50-percent-of-oceanic-shark-species.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSN1560772220080217

http://www.hsus.org/hsi/oceans/sharks/sharks_out_of_soup_61108.html

http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=38

http://animals.howstuffworks.com/fish/shark7.htm

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-5741

http://advocacy.britannica.com/blog/advocacy/wp-content/uploads/shark-fin.jpg (photo)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shark (photo)

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#1

Re: Shark Attack: The Demise of a Deep Sea Predator

07/17/2008 9:19 AM

Another example of your US Congress "in action". Pass stupid laws and address stupid topics while the economy goes to Hell.

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#6
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Re: Shark Attack: The Demise of a Deep Sea Predator

07/19/2008 9:47 PM

Our congress? Or your congress? If it is your congress (like you aren't from around here), why don't you just worry your petty lil' ol' self 'bout something other than what it is our congress does or doesn't do. Thank You

Ferris

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#2

Re: Shark Attack: The Demise of a Deep Sea Predator

07/17/2008 9:51 AM

Looking for culprits?

Is there any statistics as to how many shark fin soups are being eaten everyday in China and how many are eaten in the rest of the world?

Why aren't piracy laws being enforced on open sea pirates? Being outside territorial waters mean you can get away with any crime?

When will we all understand that without sharks and a host list of other endangered species we are putting Homo Sapiens, the human race and the planet on that same list.

Wangito.

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#3
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Re: Shark Attack: The Demise of a Deep Sea Predator

07/17/2008 10:01 AM

Good point, Wangito. These predators are important to help maintain balance in the seas.

I did not see a quantity on how much shark fin soup is sold, but it is in high demand and can be sold for more than $100 a bowl in Asia. An older NY Times article states that "more than 279,000 pounds of shark fins, representing about 300,000 sharks, were exported from Ecuador to China and Hong Kong in 2003, twice as much as in the mid-1990's".

Contrary to popular belief, I did not write this from the point of view as an animal rights activist - merely to point out something that's going on in the world of animals.

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#4

Re: Shark Attack: The Demise of a Deep Sea Predator

07/17/2008 12:43 PM

Shark fishing may be legal (for now) in Florida (where I currently reside) but so far any fishing I've done with a guide, sharks, rays, and other fish not on the (rather short) 'desired catch' list were released with as little harm done as possible. I've never seen a pot of shark fin soup in any restaurant I've been in (except in Hong Kong) even in Chinatown(s). Makes me wonder where the enforcement needs to start - on the boats, or in the (soup) bowls? How about penalties for those caught cooking or eating shark fin soup and such wasteful fare? Makes me think of stories about Nero's Rome where hummingbird tongue casseroles were considered a prime delicacy...

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Re: Shark Attack: The Demise of a Deep Sea Predator

07/17/2008 12:53 PM

Good idea EnviroMan - reduce demand and the damage will stop. Hummingbird tongue? Yuck! Although, I suppose all cultures have their own ideas of delicacies...

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Re: Shark Attack: The Demise of a Deep Sea Predator

07/26/2008 9:31 AM

Your water way contain everything from Viagra, ANTI BOITICS to BOVINE GROWTH HORMONES so when the fish even big ones attack why would anyone be surprized.

They have little to eat with fish processing ships out there fishing 24/7 with large fleets and refueling at sea some have not seen a port since their launch..

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