Policy spotlight: working in Germany and Arabia to save the shark
A few decades ago sharks were considered the monsters of the sea, you would be better off if you didn’t come across one.
These days, divers pay a lot of money to get into regions where at least a few sharks can be seen. Unfortunately another environmental problem has reached the oceans; the disappearance of the sharks, especially the bigger species.
Many of those species are down to 20% or even less of their original numbers and in many ecosystems they can’t play their important role anymore.
It is their job as apex predators to manage the food web from top down. Their disappearance results in an increase of medium size predators which again causes the disappearance of whole populations of their smaller prey species.
The main reason for this loss is because in some areas of Asia it is considered a delicacy or even a status symbol to put some tasteless shark cartilage into a soup dish. That is why that up to 100 million sharks are killed every year, many of them are thrown back into the sea after only their fins are being cut off, left to die a very painful death.
As sharks are only reproducing very slowly they have no chance to recover from this slaughter around the world and they disappear from more and more marine ecosystems.
I am right now in Bonn where in the framework of the Bonn Convention for Migrating Species discussions are being held about this catastrophic situation. Government representatives are meeting to develop an action plan for the protection of sharks. The International Fund for Animal Welfare together with other groups is here to actively cooperate with them to find solutions.
To help continue progress, we are currently preparing a big workshop in Dubai to work with the countries of the Arab region on solutions to protect sharks and to get their support in CITES where especially Germany, the US and Brazil intend to table proposals for more protection of several shark species.
I will keep you up to date on our work as I can.