Shark populations down 71% since 1970

Shark and ray populations have dropped 70% and are nearing 'point of no return,' study warns

Major decline in ocean sharks, rays: study

"It's an incredible rate of decline, steeper than most elephant and rhino declines, and those animals are iconic in driving conservation efforts on land", said Nick Dulvy, a paper co-author and Canada research chair in marine biodiversity and conservation, in a news release.

AFMA aimed to minimise inadvertent capture of threatened species through a variety of measures, the spokesperson said, including a guidebook for fishers on how to handle sharks and rays.

There are 31 shark and ray species in the open ocean, 24 of which are now endangered, according to the Red List Index standards of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Some species of sharks and rays could disappear from our seas altogether after a sharp drop in their numbers due to overfishing in the past 50 years.

Scientists have known for decades that individual shark species are declining, but a new study drawing on 57 global datasets underscores just how dramatically worldwide populations have collapsed in the past half century.

"We knew the situation was bad in a lot of places but that information came from different studies and reports, so it was hard to have an idea of the global situation", added Pacoureau, a post-doctoral fellow at SFU's department of biological science.

The ocean conservation group is pushing for the United States to adopt such a ban, as Canada enacted in 2019."The findings of this paper are horrifying but ultimately not that surprising", Pfleger said.

The study, published on Wednesday (Jan 27) in the journal Nature, points the finger at overfishing and weak protection, and calls for tighter restrictions and better implementation of existing rules. While it found variation in the health of different populations, the overall trend was clear.

It was seen that the abundance of oceanic sharks and rays declined by more than 70 percent between 1970 and 2018 globally.

Dulvy said the figure was likely to be similar, or even worse, for other oceanic sharks and rays, but gaps in data made it hard to make definitive conclusions.

The results were a shock even for experts, Pacoureau said, describing specialists at a meeting on shark conservation being "stunned into silence" when confronted with the figures.

"In terms of timing, they reproduce more like mammals - and that makes them especially vulnerable", said Pacoureau. Long lines with hooks ensnare sharks unsuspectingly, and their use has roughly doubled in the last half of the century.

However the scientists offered a glimmer of hope adding that two species - including the Great White Shark - have shown signs of regional rebuilding since the early Noughties. "But even when consumers want to do the right thing by not eating endangered and threatened species it's really hard for them when they're at the fish and chip shop and all they see is "flake".

Dulvy said ordinary citizens had a role to play by pressing governments to meet their national and global commitments.

JCU research and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries professor Colin Simpfendorfer said sharks are facing growing threats in the world's oceans. By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

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