Bright spots of sustainable shark fishing

Published on 06. February 2017

Bright spots of sustainable shark fishing

Colin A. Simpfendorfer, Nicholas K. Dulvy


Sharks, rays and chimeras (class Chondrichthyes; herein ‘sharks’) today face possibly the largest crisis of their 420 million year history. Tens of millions of sharks are caught and traded internationally each year, many populations are overfished to the point where global catch peaked in 2003, and a quarter of species have an elevated risk of extinction [1–3] . To some, the solution is to simply stop taking them from our oceans, or prohibit carriage, sale or trade in shark fins [4] . Approaches such as bans and alternative livelihoods for fishers (e.g. ecotourism) may play some role in controlling fishing mortality but will not solve this crisis because sharks are mostly taken as incidental catch and play an important role in food security [5–7] . Here, we show that moving to sustainable fishing is a feasible solution. In fact, approximately 9% of the current global catch of sharks, from at least 33 species with a wide range of life histories, is biologically sustainable, although not necessarily sufficiently managed.

Current Biology, Volume 27, Issue 3, pR97–R98, doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.017



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