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Sharks Are Swimming Close to Extinction

Sharks Are Swimming Close to Extinction

Scientists say sharks are inching closer and closer to extinction, even as other oceanic species are bouncing back.

An international team of researchers has studied sharks for the last 70 years and found the predators are struggling to repopulate and push back against overfishing.

“While target species such as tunas and billfishes are increasingly managed at sustainable levels, shark species taken as bycatch by the same fisheries continue to decline due to insufficient management actions,” said study author Dr. Maria José Juan-Jordá.

The study found the global population of sharks and rays has decreased by more than 70 percent in the past 50 years, primarily due to an increase in fishing. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, which monitors species endangerment, expects the shark population to continue to decrease over several decades.

The research team and the IUCN are doing what they can to slow down the extinction, but their hope is that others will catch on and do their part, too.

“The conservation statuses of threatened target species can be improved by managing the fishing industry, which can benefit the industry economically in the long run while allowing the threatened species to recover,” study co-authors Matthew Burgess and Sarah Becker wrote in a media release. “However, the protection of high-vulnerability bycatch and nontarget species is expected to be more difficult because they will require fisheries to invest in better fishing gear and targeting practices, or reduce fishing efforts, without directly benefiting from these changes.”

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