In the parts of the ocean where sharks have been fished out of existence, we can see the dangerous result of removing the top predator from an ecosystem.
Why should we protect sharks from humans?
The biggest threat to sharks is illegal finning, where the fins are cut off and the shark is thrown back into the ocean. Unable to swim without their fins, the sharks sink to the bottom and die of suffocation or get eaten by other predators. The fins are then sold for shark fin soup, a delicacy in Asia to show off social status.
Another threat is the overfishing happening around the world. When fish populations decrease, humans have to cast their nets wider and end up catching other animals, such as sharks. Currently 80% of long lining is bycatch of sharks. This means that sharks are often caught incidentally and, as a result, many will be discarded. This contributes to the decline of different shark species.
Not only direct threats such as fishing account for the depletion of shark species but also indirect influences such as pollution, habitat alteration, damage and loss due to coastal development.
Sharks have become an endangered species because of human impact and activities. The remaining shark population is declining faster every day.
The frightening reality is, like them or not, sharks play a crucial role on this planet. Remove sharks from the oceans and we are tampering with our primary food, water and air sources.