Overfishing is threatening a majority of the world’s shark and ray species with extinction, according to a study published in Nature. Shark and ray abundance has been declining over the last 50 years, and fishing pressure – including the global shark fin trade, which kills up to 73 million sharks for their fins each year – is largely to blame.
“We demonstrate that — despite ranging farther from land than most species — oceanic sharks and rays are at exceptionally high risk of extinction, much more so than the average bird, mammal, or frog,” Dr. Nicholas Dulvy, who co-authored the study, said in a press release.
Sharks are vital to healthy ocean ecosystems. As predators, they help maintain the species below them in the food chain, and any decline in shark populations can create a domino effect of unintended consequences for other marine species.
Fortunately, we can save sharks through science-based fisheries management and policies that ban the sale of their fins. This Shark Week, if you live in the United States, you can help by telling your representative in the House to cosponsor the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act and pass a fin ban now. Watch the video above to learn more about the problem and what Oceana is doing to help.