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The research team has linked the increase in longline fishing for tuna with the decrease in numbers of oceanic whitetips and silky sharks in the Gulf of Mexico. Often a by-catch of longline fishing boats, theses sharks have been landed for their valuable fins to supply the increasing demand for shark fin soup.
Bite-Back, the UK’s fastest growing shark and marine conservation organisation, is working to expose the correlation between the demand for shark meat and fins and the decimation of shark populations and encourage a significant fall in consumer and retail demand.
Currently 270,000 sharks are killed worldwide everyday to keep up with consumer demand.
Graham Buckingham, campaign director at Bite-Back, said: “Except for the oceans, there is no other place on earth where the decimation of an entire species would be allowed to go unchallenged. It is our opinion that restaurants and retailers that sell shark meat and fins are effectively endorsing the extinction of these creatures. It has to stop.”
Last year alone 3,290 tonnes of shark meat and fins were consumed in the UK. Yet, since there is little hope for government intervention, Bite-Back says it is down to the diving community and principled consumers to educate and encourage offending retailers to stop selling shark and vulnerable species.