Friday, November 19, 2010

How to save sharks from going extinct?

Sharks, the world most famous marine predators, are almost everywhere in the world in danger of going extinct. In many places of the world shark's meat is one of the top delicacies and this has led to significant decline in their population on global scale. According to the current estimates each year between 50 to 73 million sharks are killed by people in commercial and recreational fishing, and this number will likely continue in years to come if world fails to do anything about it.

What is the best solution to save sharks from going extinct? Many environmentalists are very fond of the shark sanctuary idea, and this is the idea that became quite popular since the time Palau's president Toribiong announced that his country will ban all commercial shark fishing in its waters, and provide 600,000 sq km (230,000 sq miles) of ocean to be free of shark fishing, at least till shark population recovers in numbers.

The latest example is Indonesia. Indonesia has recently declared large shark sanctuary area which will cover 46,000 square kilometres (17,760 square miles) of waters around the Raja Ampat islands in eastern Indonesia. This is one of the world's richest marine biodiversity areas, and hopefully shark population will not be the only species to prosper, as this is also the home of other famous endangered animals such as sea turtles and manta rays.

Sharks are on top of the marine food chain, and their extinction would cause irreparable damage to many marine ecosystems. Some shark species, for instance angel sharks and deep-water gulper shark, are already listed as critically endangered, and many more will follow unless we see a decent number of new shark sanctuaries around the globe.

The importance of this shark sanctuary in Indonesia is great because close to 80% of shark species in this area are threatened with extinction, mostly from overfishing. Shark fin soup is traditional dish in many Asian countries, and its consumption has risen dramatically with the middle class becoming more affluent, and with it shark meat is becoming even more sought after "merchandise".

People that enjoy in shark meat care very little about the fact that sharks are heading for extinction. Perhaps they'll care more once there won't be sharks left to satisfy their gourmand desires.

Shark population is decreasing steadily on global scale, and world has to do something about it. One of the best available solutions to save sharks from going extinct is to create more shark sanctuaries. The problem is that many countries will only consider this idea once their domestic shark population starts experiencing huge decline, instead of doing the necessary measures to preserve their local shark population at optimum level.

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