Sharks have been on earth for millennia playing an important role in keeping the marine ecosystems functioning. But today, scientists say that nearly 30 percent of sharks and related rays are threatened or near threatened with extinction.
Sharks are more than a crucial part of marine ecosystems, but they're essential for the dive industry – an important economic alternative to shark fishing in many communities. Not only do the sharks attract divers to certain waters, but their extinction could damage the health of the oceans, compromising the economic security of coastal communities.
It's time for international leaders to recognize the importance of sharks and act to protect these ancient animals. They must restrict trade in vulnerable shark species, protect their habitat and adopt national shark recovery plans.
Tell international leaders to take concrete action to conserve sharks globally and by doing so, protect the health of our oceans.
Dear [Decision Maker]:
Sharks have played a critical role in maintaining healthy and balanced marine ecosystems since before the time of dinosaurs. However, these top predators are now being removed from our oceans at unsustainable rates. Scientists assess that nearly 30% of sharks and related rays are threatened or near threatened with extinction.
Sharks are not only an essential part of the marine ecosystem, but also essential for the dive industry. Scientific studies have found that, without sharks, the balance of food webs is disrupted and the health of the oceans is compromised.
Sharks are important to the dive industry for these ecological roles as well as for their direct value as attractions for thousands of diving operations around the world, which generate important jobs and significant revenue for coastal communities, providing an economic alternative to shark fishing. The presence of sharks enhances divers' experiences and many actively seek dive spots where they're likely to see these ancient animals. However, fewer and fewer sharks are now being seen.
As divers and ocean enthusiasts, we value the role sharks play in the marine environment. We therefore call on the world's leaders to take concrete and meaningful action to conserve sharks globally, ensuring their survival into the future, including:
The restriction of international trade in shark species, in particular those already known to be threatened or vulnerable;
The establishment and enforcement of additional marine protected areas where sharks and their habitats are free from over-exploitation and can be used to generate income through non-lethal uses such as recreational diving;
The adoption of national action plans to endure the recovery of shark populations and the restoration of their critical role in the ocean environment.