1141706171

1141706171

Hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini, in drift gill net, Sea of Cortez, Mexico. (Photo by: Mark Conlin/VW PICS/UIG via Getty Image)

Photo by: VW Pics

VW Pics

Overfishing Is a Worldwide Issue Threatening Shark Hotspots

By: Amy Wang

In a recent global study published in the journal Nature, it has been discovered that shark “hotspots” are being threatened by longline fishing vessels.

A team of 150 scientists from 26 countries tagged almost 2,000 sharks to identify which areas in the oceans are ecologically important for various shark species. These areas are known as hot spots, which are ocean frontal zones where the waters are food-rich and productive. Unfortunately, many of them overlap with the paths of global longline fishing vessels with gear that catches many open-ocean sharks.

It was determined in the study that 24% of the space used by sharks in a typical month overlap with where vessels longline fish. Blue and shortfin mako sharks in the North Atlantic, which are already being commercially exploited, have even higher numbers of spatial usage with an average of 76% and 62% overlapped, respectively. Despite being internationally protected, great white sharks still have over 50% of their space overlapping with the fleets. Not only are the shark hotspots overlapped with the fishing routes, but they are also in areas with “high fishing effort.” This results in an even higher likelihood and occurence of sharks being caught.

“Currently, little to no protection exists for sharks in the high seas,” emphasized Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, who co-authored the study and works as a research associate professor at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School. He further elaborates that sharks are top predators that contribute to maintaining a healthy ocean, but with the lack of space for refuge, the many already-endangered sharks are now facing an even more grim future.

The researchers suggested that a solution to this issue would be to designate large-scale marine protected areas (MPAs) in places with high shark activity to protect these important creatures from industrial fishing. Implementing stricter quotas to reduce catching in other areas would help address the issue as well. With the data obtained from the research, the team has created a “blueprint” to decide where the MPAs should be located for the sake of shark conservation.

This is an urgent matter and conservation efforts must be made soon as some shark hotspots could be gone in only a matter of years.

Next Up

Orcas Earn Their Killer Nickname in Brutal Attacks on Sharks

Six sharks washed up on a beach a few hours away from Cape Town, South Africa. As reported to Newsweek, these great white sharks were found dead, but the remains were meticulously torn apart. So what happened?

Meet the Deep Sea Sharks that Glow in the Dark

The largest bioluminescent creature on land or sea was found in the ocean near New Zealand.

Twin Red Panda Cubs Born at Chester Zoo

In June, twin red pandas were born at England’s Chester Zoo as part of its endangered species breeding program, and they are as adorable as ever! After nine weeks in their nest boxes, these cubs passed their health checkup, which is great news in the animal world as there are less than 10,000 in the wild.

New Research Reveals Cause of Death for 3 Million Birds

An estimated 3 million short-tailed shearwaters died along the coast of Australia in 2013. New research suggests humans and the 2012 Harve submarine eruption are to blame.

The California Condor Comeback Story

When I first moved to California in the late-1990s, the California condor was something I always remember hearing about from wildlife enthusiasts.

Are The Birds Getting Louder?

From the pages of The Explorers Journal, contributing editor Nick Smith gets to the bottom of a global pandemic phenomenon.

Lion Queens of India

How Asiatic lionesses save their cubs, by playing the field.

The Battle is on to Save North Carolina's Rare Red Wolf

There are less than 10 wild red wolves left in the world and there’s a fierce battle going on to save them. The wolves, a rare red species, are only found in North Carolina, despite having once roamed throughout the eastern and south central US.

Species Loss is a Disaster for Wildlife and Humankind

Biodiversity and species loss is a grave threat, facing not only animals and plants but society too. Ecologists say that losing species directly affects human food production, water supply, building materials, and energy sources, so our interactions with and handling of ecosystems must be regulated.

How to Help Save the World’s Endangered Rhinos

World Rhino Day, on September 22, aims to celebrate the black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos, and all the subspecies in-between.
Related To: