Sharks are perceived as dangerous predators of the sea. Even so, they are one of the most important species in the ocean’s ecosystems, yet one of the most threatened to be killed due to human activity.
Overfishing is one of the primary causes of shark species that become endangered or on the brink of extinction today. Fishermen are guilty as hey accidentally catching sharks in their nets as they cast their nets over a wide area to increase their chances of catching more fish. Catching their fish, when sharks get caught in the nets, fishermen are prone to cut off their fins and sell them on a black market instead of releasing the sharks. Apart from accidentally catching sharks, some fishermen also catch them intentionally to sell their fins to merchants and restaurants in southern China, which is then cooked with and served as shark fin soup – a delicacy for the Chinese.
Why Shark Finning Needs to Stop
Shark conservation has never been as crucial as it is today. Slowly but surely, sharks are dying out, specie by specie. They have no way to defend themselves against fishermen. Sharks are the ocean’s apex predators and are responsible for keeping the fish lower food chain in check. Should they be removed from the chain, the ocean’s reefs will become overpopulated, which will destroy the coral ecosystems. Since coral reefs are algae dominant, they rely on fish to keep the algae at bay. With the presence of too many fish, balance will be disrupted in the coral reefs, which will cause them to die.
Just like sharks are significant to maintain ecosystems, coral reefs are needed to maintain the environment. Sharks are also responsible for keeping fish populations healthy as they feed on weak fish. Since sharks and stingrays reproduce slower than fish, with overfishing, they run the risk of becoming extinct, which is why they need to be conserved now, more than ever before.