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Monday, November 17, 2008

Expert view: Sharks are just not meant to be hunted

Here's a very good and concise explanation on why sharks shouldn't be commercially exploited.

by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
The Guardian, Tuesday November 11 2008

In some coastal parts of the world shark is a traditional part of the local fish diet. But pursuing them with modern fishing vessels can only lead to their rapid demise. Despite their astonishing success as a species - they've been around unchanged since the time of dinosaurs - they have a flaw in their otherwise perfect evolutionary design. Unlike most other fish, which produce vast numbers of eggs, and swim in huge shoals, sharks are just not meant to be hunted.

Rather, their place in nature is at the top of the food chain. That's why they are slow growers, who lay small numbers of eggs - or in some cases, such as the spurdog, give birth to live young. Start killing the adult breeding stock and numbers will soon crash to a tipping point. That's why extinction is a very real risk of commercially targeting certain species of shark.
Also see the Guardian's Sharks under threat gallery, and accompanying article Sharks and rays off UK shores critically endangered and facing extinction.

Basking shark feeding on plankton in the Atlantic Ocean. Basking sharks have small teeth and use their gills to collect food. Basking sharks are the world's second largest fish and listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.

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