Sharks are among the oldest species of fish in our oceans, with an evolutionary history that started before the dinosaurs roamed our planet. Worldwide, tourism related to whale sharks, the largest shark, is estimated to total over $47.5 million per year, reports the Miami Herald.
Sadly, however, sharks are killed by the millions to provide fins for shark fin soup, which the Miami Herald reports is increasingly popular. Up to 73 million sharks are killed each year in what is a very un-sustainable fishery.
In March 2010, commerce was chosen over conservation at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Then there was hope. The Maldives created a 35,000 square mile Indian Ocean shark sanctuary. Later in 2010, protective measures for eight sharks were adopted at the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.
Then the presidents of Honduras and Palau challenged other UN world leaders to establish additional sanctuaries and to stop the practice of finning, where a shark’s fins are cut off and then the shark is thrown back into the sea to die. At the end of 2010, the U.S. Congress stepped up to the plate and passed the Shark Conservation Act which increases shark conservation efforts and helps stop finning.
Now we need more countries to take responsible actions to help preserve the remaining sharks.