Global fishing threatens endangered sharks

Dec 03, 2013 by Aaron Fernandes
Global fishing threatens endangered sharks
Mr Vianna says as well as being extremely important for marine ecosystems, sharks may also be good business partners in tourism. Credit: SF Brit

Western Australian researchers are conducting a global initiative to evaluate the importance of sharks for conservation and economic development, in a bid to slow global declines in shark numbers.

Researchers at the University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute are collecting data for a valuation of in Australia, following the success of similar studies in Fiji, Borneo and Palau.

The studies aim to provide a socio-economic valuation that may make shark conservation economically attractive for decision-makers, focusing on describing the economic benefits of tourism when compared to .

Lead researcher Gabriel Vianna says shark fishing is a major problem around the world, causing shark populations to decline by more than 90 per cent in some areas.

"The hunger of the Asian market for has been responsible for stimulating local fishers in distant areas such as Africa, Central and South America or even remote islands of the Indo-Pacific to catch for the export of fins," he says.

"This combined with the large catches of sharks by commercial fishing fleets around the world has caused massive declines in many shark populations."

In the Asia-Pacific, recent studies have revealed significant declines of populations previously considered to cope well with commercial fishing.

Researchers warn this shows current catches of sharks are not sustainable for many species and need to be better regulated.

"This kind of study is important as it shows a different side of conservation, it shows that besides being extremely important for marine ecosystems, sharks may also be good business partners," Mr Vianna says.

"A well-managed shark diving-industry can generate significant revenues to the economy and assist the livelihood of local communities."

As part of the study, researchers have compiled a survey to collect information from the dive tourists and dive operators, and are conducting further research to assess the scale of the industry.

Part of Mr Vianna's research also explores the diving industry's interactions with sharks, including assessing the role divers can play in monitoring shark populations.

"The coast of WA has many species of sharks of potential interest for the diving and shark-diving industries such as reef or coastal sharks," he says.

"Some of these species are also caught by recreational fishers or exploited as fisheries resources.

"This overlap needs to be taken into account by management and conservation strategies and the discussion with the stakeholders and scientific community is usually a good way of deal with the conflicting interests."

Explore further: Research holds key to safer coexistence with sharks

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Research holds key to safer coexistence with sharks

Dec 02, 2013

The recent fatal shark attacks at Gracetown in WA and Coffs Harbour in NSW are a tragedy and our sympathy is extended to the family and friends of the victims and to the surrounding communities. 

Marine reserves help boost reef shark numbers

Jul 22, 2013

Researchers from The University of Western Australia have used non-destructive stereo video technology to obtain proof that marine reserves can have positive effects on reef shark populations.

Sharks dive deep on moonlit nights

Apr 15, 2013

(Phys.org) —The Moon, water temperature and even time of day affect the diving behaviour of sharks, according to new research at The University of Western Australia.

'Walking' shark discovered in Indonesia

Aug 30, 2013

A new species of shark that "walks" along the seabed using its fins as tiny legs has been discovered in eastern Indonesia, an environmental group said Friday.

Recommended for you

Japan lawmakers demand continued whaling

11 hours ago

Japanese lawmakers on Wednesday demanded the government redesign its "research" whaling programme to circumvent an international court ruling that described the programme as a commercial hunt dressed up as ...

EU must take urgent action on invasive species

14 hours ago

The EU must take urgent action to halt the spread of invasive species that are threatening native plants and animals across Europe, according to a scientist from Queen's University Belfast.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Revealing camouflaged bacteria

A research team at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has discovered an protein family that plays a central role in the fight against the bacterial pathogen Salmonella within the cells. The so cal ...

Chimpanzees prefer firm, stable beds

Chimpanzees may select a certain type of wood, Ugandan Ironwood, over other options for its firm, stable, and resilient properties to make their bed, according to a study published April 16, 2014 in the open-access ...