Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - All applicable methods
Capture area - Worldwide (FAO All Areas)
Stock area - All Areas
Stock detail - All Areas
Fish type - White round fish
World-wide sharks are being removed from our seas at an alarming rate. It is estimated that up to 73 million sharks are killed each year, directly threatening their long term survival. Many are killed for their fins, which are used to make soup, widely eaten in the Far East.The process of shark-finning refers to the practice of cutting fins off (sometimes live) sharks and discarding the rest of the body back to sea. Sharks are vulnerable to exploitation because they are slow growing, long lived, and have low reproductive capacity. In a recent report by the IUCN, which assessed the global status of 21 oceanic pelagic shark and ray species, it found that 16 were classified as threatened or near threatened (assessed using Red List criteria). Recently, 6 species of shark have been added to the OSPAR list of threatened and/or declining species and habitats. Management is often lacking, and ecosystem changes from the removal of sharks are thought to be highly likely, due to cascade effects down the food chain, caused by the removal of a top level predator.
Sharks and rays (Subclass Elasmobranchii) and chimaeras (Subclass 'Holocephali) are distinguished from bony fish by their cartilaginous skeletons and the way in which they reproduce. Sharks are known for their incredibly streamlined bodies, and dermal denticles which make their skin rough to the touch but provide protection and hydrodynamics. Sharks are found world-wide from the inshore down to depths of over 3000m e.g. Portuguese dogfish. Depending on species, sharks are thought to live for between 25 and 50 years. They are generally slow growing, late to mature and produce few young making them inherently vulnerable to over-exploitation.
World-wide, sharks are being removed from our seas at an alarming rate. The most well-researched figure (Clarke, S. 2006) is that between 26 - 73 million sharks are killed for their fins each year, with a best estimate of 38 million, directly threatening their long-term survival. Shark populations suffer from a high incidence of incidental capture, being bycaught in global fisheries. Many species have experienced severe declines in the last 30 years as fishing intensity has increased, with 70% reductions commonplace and 90% declines in stock occurring for many species. Shark finning is an issue worldwide, and demand for shark products worldwide (especially in Asia) has increased fishing intensity and furthered their decline.
Sharks fisheries are most commonly unmanaged or managed insufficiently. There is a Prohibition on shark finning. CITES trade restrictions. There is a generic EC Action Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, but there are no specific management objectives for these species.
Sharks are targeted in directed fisheries, by longline and gillnet, and are bycaught in longline, gillnet and purse seine fisheries for both pelagic and demersal fisheries. As a game fish, shark is targeted by recreational rod and line fisheries, which are increasing in intensity.
Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below . Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.
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