The Impact Of Overfishing On Sharks

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Sharks have been swimming the world’s oceans for more than 400 million years - 100 years before the first dinosaurs appeared (Griffin et al., 2008). Sharks fall under the kingdom Animalia, the phylum Chordate and the class chondrichthyes. There are more than 400 known shark species found in the ocean (Musick and Musick, 2011). In the ocean, sharks help maintain the health of ocean ecosystems and help regulate and maintain the balance of the marine environment (Griffin et al., 2008). These sharks have slow growth rates and reach sexual maturity at a relatively late age compared to other marine fish, which leaves their population vulnerable to any outside sources (Musick and Musick, 2011). Sharks have been apex predators in the ocean for millions of years, however, the populations of sharks have been at risk for years as a result of many different factors.
The impact of overfishing on shark populations has risen into the public eye over the recent years due to several documentaries and movies that have been released recently. Sharks are particularly vulnerable to over-exploitation due to their K-selected life strategy, having slow growth rates, long life spans and due to them reaching sexual maturity at relatively late age compared to that of other marine organisms (Stevens et al., 2000). Fisherman fish for sharks in order to get their fins, which is used to make shark fin soup (a delicacy in South-East Asia). This fishing has had a direct impact on the sharks’ community

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