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Shark Alert! Species Struggle | National Geographic

sharks have prowled the Earth’s oceans for a staggering 450 million years which means they predate even dinosaurs and yet in a span of only a decade humans are on the verge of completely wiping out some of these ancient shark species we have for instance in the Gulf of Mexico where white tip sharks are the dominant predator the estimates are that 99% of those animals that per gone in the Mediterranean we have 15 large species of sharks that have reached almost undetectable levels they’re almost never seen anymore and then you get something like the great white shark which was the protagonist of Jaws one of the most spectacular animals in the sea and it’s headed for the brink of extinction the main culprit according to conservationists overfishing the world’s nations have come together to set limits on the harvesting of other large food fish like tuna but there are hardly any rules when it comes to sharks it’s pretty much open season anytime anywhere in America shark tournaments are popular pastimes with recreational fishermen vying for the largest catch of the day sharks are also caught commercially for food in many countries they’ve become a substitute for swordfish which are protected and hard to come by in addition an extract from shark liver oil known as squalene is used in beauty products believed to keep skin looking young and healthy but the most valuable part of a shark is its distinctive fin they are considered a delicacy in Asia cooked up and served in soup as China’s economy surges so does the demand for shark fin soup from a new generation with money to spend the demand for sharks is fueled by the increasing demand for fins for the Asian delicacy shark fin soup but in addition to that there is also an increasing demand for shark meat as other traditionally fish species are dwindling and collapsing there are few if any fishing limits on sharks and therefore it is easier for the fishermen to target sharks and take as many as they want at a commercial fish market in Vigo Spain sharks are piled in heaps waiting to be sold at auction the European Union is one of the largest shark fishing entities in the world and Spain is one of the top exporters of shark fins to Asia fishermen say sharks have become vital to their economic survival with his father with swordfish there is a limit that cannot pass you would own whereas with sharks that’s not the case conservationists want to tackle the demand for shark fins in Asia but they also want to tighten supplies here at the source they need to be managed here in Europe we need to manage them under the Common Fisheries Policy which means to establish fishing quotas those are cash limits many countries already been a practice known as shark finning where fins are cut off at sea and the fish dumped back into the ocean to die you’re in Vigo Spain sharks must be landed hole or if fins are cut off on the boat there must be a corresponding number of bodies brought in as well the conservationists say the thinning bands can easily be violated by rogue fishermen Europe could strengthen the European finning regulation by only allowing sharks to be landed with their fins naturally attached Europe could help by establishing a long-overdue management fend for sharks sharks are slow to mature and slow to reproduce they bear their young live and in some cases only a few pups every couple of years decimated populations can’t recover quickly some conservationists fear they may not be able to recover at all the loss is having a ripple effect enric’s ala is a National Geographic emerging Explorer with a passion for protecting coral reefs he’s increasingly concerned by what he doesn’t see sharks these apex predators are at the top of a delicately balanced marine ecosystem shocking new report is indicated that scallop beds along the u.s. eastern seaboard had been destroyed because now there aren’t enough sharks to keep the creatures that eat scallops in check marine ecosystems are like a machine composed of thousands of different species thousands of different parts that have evolved during hundreds of thousands or millions of years to work very efficiently if one of these parts is missing the machine is going to malfunction or some conservation organizations like the Pew Environment Group the problem with sharks is endemic of a larger problem we now have the technology and the wherewithal to find and catch fish virtually anywhere in the world’s marine environment so the sheer amount of life that we’re extracting from the world’s oceans every year is emptying them of life unless this stops were literally headed for a world with a lifeless sea and we don’t have a lot of time left their fear skills have allowed sharks to survive for millions upon millions of years but species feared by many may be wiped out by humans in the blink of an eye sponsored by National Geographic mission programs taking science and exploration into the new millennium
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