Help Save Sharks!
Sharks are beautiful animals that have roamed our oceans since before the time of dinosaurs. Almost all types of sharks are facing extreme pressure to survive as a species due to overfishing. The good news is that there are things that we can do to help sharks!
Sharks are essential to OCEAN HEALTH. They are top-level predators that help maintain balance in the marine food web.
Many sharks prey on wounded or sick animals, keeping the populations of various species healthy. Others scavenge the ocean by feeding on dead animals or by filter feeding. The loss of sharks due to overfishing may mean the loss of many more species, including those that humans rely on for food.
Every year an estimated 100 million sharks are killed; 38 million of those are killed just for their fins.
In most commercial fisheries, the meat of a shark has little value. The fins, however, are highly valued and are used for shark fin soup and medicinal purposes. Many sharks fall victim to the horrific practice of finning, where the fins of the shark are cut off and the rest of the still-living shark’s body is discarded into the sea to die.
Many sharks also are caught in nets and fishing lines, as accidental bycatch. Longline fishing, bottom trawlers, and gillnets produce large numbers of shark bycatch. Simple gear changes, innovative hook designs, and new fishing methods could greatly reduce shark bycatch while also giving higher yields of target fish and saving time and money for fishing crews.
Sharks cannot withstand the overharvesting that they are now experiencing.
Sharks mature late in life. Many do not start reproducing until they are 10 years or older, and many species give birth to only a few young. Consequently, many don’t reproduce quickly enough to keep up with the intense level of fishing and accidental bycatch.
Sharks are unreasonably feared by people.
In today’s world, we are constantly subjected to stereotypic characterizations of sharks in the media that promote fear and loathing. In reality, our chances of being attacked by a shark are very small compared to other dangers. It’s estimated that for every fatal shark attack, up to 25 million sharks are killed by humans. Fatalities due to sharks average less than one person per year in the United States and are usually due to mistaken identity. Swimmers and surfers appear similar in shape to seals, sea lions, and turtles --the primary diet of some sharks -- when seen from below.
Tell your representatives in Congress that you want
strong laws protecting sharks.
Washington state has played a key role in the protection of sharks and is one of eight states that have banned the sale and trade of shark fin products. But there is still an urgent need for responsible management and monitoring at the national, regional, and international levels to prevent the extinction of shark species.
SHARKS ARE BEAUTIFUL...
You can help save sharks
- Talk to your friends and family about sharks. Tell people that sharks are awesome and you’re more likely to die from hitting a deer than from a shark bite.
- Never buy shark fin soup, shark cartilage pills or souvenirs like shark jaws.
- Join us and make a contribution to shark conservation.
- Help end shark finning. Washington State banned this gruesome practice. Tell your representatives in Congress you want strong federal laws protecting sharks.
- Use your Seafood Watch card or phone app to choose sustainably harvested seafood, a practice that avoids the unintended capture of sharks.
Dive Even Deeper!
Washington State’s Shark Fin Law
The Washington State law on the ban on the sale of shark fins and shark fin derivatives.
Shark Identification in Washington State
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife identifies sharks and shark relatives in Puget Sound.
This program from Monterey Bay Aquarium helps consumers and businesses make responsible seafood choices for healthy oceans.
Ichthyology at the Florida Museum of Natural History
Shark and fish history and biology information as well as the International Shark Attack File.
Discovery’s Save the Sharks
Videos and information on protecting shark populations.
Dedicated to saving sharks and mantas through building awareness, education, and action.
Conducting research, promoting conservation, and providing education for the protection of marine ecosystems.
Project AWARE Foundation
A growing movement of scuba divers protecting the ocean planet – one dive at a time.