Why are sharks so important? The act of finning a live shark has to be one of the worst acts of animal cruelty in recent times. Studies estimate between 63 and 273 million sharks are killed annually, the mass cruelty alone is a huge moral and ethical dilemma. Sharks are apex predators and keystone species, by removing them from the environment, through overfishing and finning, a cascade of trophic level collapse is triggered in an already fragile ecosystem.
- A decline in shark populations can cause degradation in reef ecosystems and drastic population declines in species used for fishing or tourism. A study published in June 2020 revealed that sharks had disappeared from 20% of the reefs studied in 58 nations.
- Sharks remove the weak, dying, or dead members of populations contributing to improved genetic and physical health in the remaining prey population.
- Sharks have slow growth rates, low fertility rate, and late sexual maturity, meaning populations take much longer to recover than other fish stocks.
- Sharks lack protection from overfishing and the finning industry, this equates to high vulnerability and sensitivity to the impacts of humans.
- +100 species of sharks and rays are listed by the IUCN as threatened with extinction, only 46 of these are protected from illegal trade by CITES.
- Oceanic shark and ray populations have declined by 71% since the 1970s. Read more about this landmark paper here.
- Sharks affect climate change and they can be a part of the solution.