Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sea Notes Blog-Ken Paterson

From the Mont Bay A.Q Sea Notes Blog and Ken Paterson, a blog to keep your eye on:

Several years before his death, Peter Benchley said that he couldn't write Jaws given what he'd learned about shark behavior and the threats sharks face around the world.

More confirmation about those threats arrived this week, when the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported its assessment of sharks & their kin in the northeast Atlantic. The conclusion: 26 percent are threatened with extinction, and another 20 percent are in the near-threatened category.

The total number of threatened species may well be underestimated as there was insufficient information to assess over a quarter of the species.

The most threatened include heavily fished, large sharks and rays, like porbeagle sharks and common skates, as well as commercially valuable deepwater sharks and spiny dogfish. The culprit remains the same: overfishing of species that mature late in life and produce relatively few young.

European agencies that regulate shark fishing have several chances to make a difference in the weeks to come, when they set fishing quotas and consider a European Community Plan of Action for sharks and related species. The good news is that the plan on the table for action in December would ban fishing for the most endangered sharks.

Never before have European countries had more reason or opportunity to safeguard the beleaguered shark and ray species of the Northeast Atlantic," said Sonja Fordham, deputy chair of the IUCN's Shark Specialist Group and policy director for The Shark Alliance.

"Country officials should heed the dire warnings of this report and act to protect threatened sharks and rays at national, regional and international levels. Such action is immediately possible and absolutely necessary to change the current course toward extinction of these remarkable ocean animals."

As individuals, we can make our voices heard. And we can shift our seafood-buying dollars to fisheries that don't decimate ocean wildlife. That's the principle behind our Seafood Watch program.

Can we make a difference? Yes, we can.

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