Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


New Study: Alarming Declines in Pacific Shark Population

New Study Reveals Alarming Declines in Pacific Shark Populations

Research published today in the journal Conservation Biology presents the most comprehensive assessment of the status of Pacific shark populations to date. The paper, authored by Dr. Shelley Clarke and a team from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in New Caledonia, shows significant declines in catch rates for blue, mako, and oceanic whitetip sharks, as well as declining average sizes of oceanic whitetip and silky sharks, indicating heavy fishing. These results, along with evidence of shark targeting reported by Dr. Clarke and other scientists in the western North Pacific, heighten concerns for the sustainability of Pacific shark populations.

"Our research reveals alarming declines of 17% per year in populations of the oceanic whitetip shark, a species highly valued for its fins," explained Dr. Clarke. "Also of serious concern are declines of 5% per year for North Pacific blue sharks, considering that this species is known as one of the most productive and abundant pelagic sharks. The data we analyzed show consistent trends for each species and area, even though they were collected from different fisheries."

The paper also suggests that bans on shark finning (slicing off a shark's fins and discarding the carcass at sea), as currently implemented, are doing little to reduce the number of sharks killed in international longline fisheries, likely due to a combination of poor enforcement and increasing markets for shark meat. Finning bans for international Pacific waters include a complicated fin-to-carcass weight ratio for enforcement and depend on follow-up domestic actions which to date have been lacking. The oceanic whitetip is the only shark species subject to international Pacific catch limits.

"These findings underscore conservationists' messages that most finning bans are not properly enforced, and alone are insufficient to reverse shark population declines," said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International. "Prohibitions on at-sea removal of fins not only bolster finning ban enforcement, but also facilitate collection of species-specific fisheries data that are key to refining population assessments and informing the establishment of urgently needed shark catch limits." Shelley Clarke was the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission's shark scientist in 2010-2011 and has authored groundbreaking papers on the shark fin trade including the estimate of 26-73 million sharks traded through the global market annually.

Shark Advocates International is a project of The Ocean Foundation advancing sound policies for sharks.

SOURCE: Shark Advocates International


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Land & Water Forum: Fourth Report On Water Management

The Land and Water Forum (LWF) today published its fourth report, outlining 60 new consensus recommendations for how New Zealand should improve its management of fresh water and calling on the Government to urgently adopt all of its recommendations from earlier reports. More>>



Welcome Home: Record High Migration Stokes 41-Year High Population Growth

New Zealand annual net migration hit a new high in October as more people arrived from than departed for Australia for the first time in more than 20 years. More>>


Citizens' Advice Bureau: Report Shows Desperate Housing Situation Throughout NZ

CAB's in-depth analysis of over 2000 client enquiries about emergency accommodation shows vulnerable families, pregnant women and children living in cars and garages, even after seeking assistance from the Ministry of Social Development and Housing New Zealand. More>>


Speaking For The Bees: Greens Call For Neonicotinoid Pesticide Ban

The National Government should ban the use of controversial pesticides called neonicotinoids after evidence has revealed that even at low doses they cause harm to bee populations, the Green Party said today. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news