The Shark & Ray Crisis

Creative Commons: Ryan Espanto

Overfishing is killing the ocean. Outside of climate change, overfishing is the main contributor to the rapid decline of ocean health which is causing human catastrophe through loss of jobs, food security, profits, habitat and ecosystem balance. Of the earth’s nearly 8 billion people, over 1 billion depend on seafood as their primary food source and the industry provides over 780 million jobs worldwide. Without immediate action, the precipitous decline of this resource will result in accelerated environmental degradation, international conflict, and hunger.

Confronting the issue through shark and ray conservation is a catalytic solution to this global problem. Sharks and rays are keystone species that play an essential role in our oceans and coastal communities. As apex predators, sharks and rays stabilize food webs and act as a barometer for ocean health. Fostering healthy shark and ray populations is essential to the creation of healthier ecosystems which, in turn, have greater resilience to climate change. On a global scale, the preservation of our sharks will have a ripple effect on broader conservation issues: protecting our ocean’s health, the world’s food security, and the economic stability of hundreds of millions of people.

Creative Commons: Jake Gaviola

Tragically, scientists are predicting that vulnerable shark populations could collapse within the next decade. Approximately 100 million sharks and rays are killed every year for their valuable fins, meat, livers and gills and nearly a third of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, placing them among the world’s most endangered vertebrates.

We must act now to radically transform global fisheries policies that threaten sharks and rays. The rising demand for shark products fuels uncontrolled and illegal trade, depletes fisheries, and impedes the ocean’s ability to respond to climate change challenges. Given their central place in both ocean policy and natural ecosystems, acting in the best interests of sharks and rays provides a leveraged means to solve this problem.

Creative Commons: James Wat, NOAA

What is needed to save our sharks? 

Existing conservation efforts are no match for the rapid decline of sharks. Current policy conditions preserve a broken system that enables illegal and unsustainable fishing and depletes our oceans. Solving this problem requires a global, coordinated effort to alter the laws and regulations that govern international and national fishing. Improved policies and trade regulations can fundamentally change the commercial fishing paradigm and incentivize sustainable fishing at the local, national and international levels.

The Shark Conservation Fund (SCF) is here to restore the ocean through shark and ray conservation.