Conservation Biology of the shark
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Shark | Species | WWF

Shark | Species | WWF | Conservation Biology of the shark | Scoop.it

MONITORING WHALE SHARKS

WWF experts continue to study shark habits and gather information in the Coral Triangle on individual sharks by using satellite tags, sonar devices and digital cameras. The information is used to create further protections for whale sharks.

Every whale shark has a unique pattern of spots and stripes on their skin, and WWF uses them to identify individual sharks. Divers photograph the animal right above their pectoral fins and behind their gill slits. The photos are then fed into a computer database. In the Philippines, WWF has identified 458 individual whale sharks since 2007.

WWF has also placed satellite tags on 29 whale sharks. The data from these tags indicate that whale sharks are highly mobile and are transient feeders.

 

ADDRESSING OVERFISHING

At the 2013 meeting around the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), WWF urged member governments to take strong action and support all proposals for sharks and manta rays. Our efforts paid off, and in an historic vote, three species of hammerhead sharks, porbeagle sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks and manta rays all gained stronger protections. These protections give CITES the authority to regulate trade for these species. Since they take a long time to reach maturity and produce relatively few young in their lifetime, they are extremely vulnerable to overfishing. Creating new protections under CITES helps ensure that such species are caught legally and traded at sustainable levels.

 

REDUCING BYCATCH

Fish Aggregating Devices (or FADs) are floating structures placed at sea by fishermen to attract large schools of fish. They are often composed of old netting underneath a raft, which can cause an entanglement hazard for sharks and other marine animals. WWF, through its partner organization, ISSF, has supported the scientific development of ways to address this problem of shark bycatch. So far, tests have shown that improved FAD design nearly eliminates shark entanglement.

 

TAGGING GREAT WHITE SHARKS

WWF supports research and monitoring of white sharks as they migrate to and from the Gulf of California. Sharks are tagged and the movements are tracked by satellite. This information on their behavior will help with a management plan for the protected area where they are found (Guadalupe Island Biosphere Reserve), such as how to protect them from bycatch and to regulate tourism.

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Scooped by Adrian Choy
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Shark | Species | WWF

Shark | Species | WWF | Conservation Biology of the shark | Scoop.it

DEMAND FOR SHARK FIN

The growing trade in shark fins –often used to make an expensive Asian soup—has become a serious threat to many shark species. The latest research suggests that around 100 million sharks may be killed annually, often targeted for their fins. This practice affects many different shark species, including whale sharks.

 

OVERFISHING

The overfishing of sharks happens because of the huge demand—mainly for shark fins—and a lack of management to ensure shark fisheries are sustainable. Some species, such as spiny dogfish and porbeagle, are targeted primarily for their meat.

The oceanic whitetip, porbeagle and three hammerhead species are some of the shark species of concern for WWF, where the impact of trade is contributing to declines in populations. Millions of these sharks continue to be fished annually to supply the persistent demand for their fins and meat. Controls on fishing are woefully insufficient. As a result, the oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, and the smooth hammerhead are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, while scalloped and great hammerhead sharks are classified as endangered.

 

BYCATCH

Sharks are often caught incidentally by fishing gear set for other types of fish—such as tuna longlines, trawls and seine nets—and many will simply be discarded. This contributes to the decline of many species of sharks.

 

PIRATE FISHING

Overfishing and illegal fishing of sharks for their fins is depleting populations worldwide. There is often a general lack of even basic management monitoring, control, and surveillance of many fisheries. Improving the capacity to combat pirate fishing (illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing) of sharks is a key factor in ensuring that shark fishing and shark populations are sustainable.

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