Shark fins drying in Hong Kong. New research indicates global shark and ray populations have declined 71 per cent in the past 50 years due to overfishing. (Teale Phelps Bondaroff/OceansAsia)

Shark fins drying in Hong Kong. New research indicates global shark and ray populations have declined 71 per cent in the past 50 years due to overfishing. (Teale Phelps Bondaroff/OceansAsia)

Shark and eels see alarming 71% global decline

B.C. researchers call their findings a wakeup call for world leaders

Fifty years of over-fishing has contributed to a staggering 71 per cent decline in global shark and ray populations, B.C. scientists have determined.

Nathan Pacoureau, a Simon Fraser University (SFU) alumnus and lead author of the paper published this month in the journal Nature, wants the findings to serve as a wake-up call for world leaders.

“We can see the alarming consequences of over-fishing in the ocean through the dramatic declines of some of its most iconic inhabitants,” Pacoureau said. “It’s something policy makers can no longer ignore. Countries should work toward new international shark and ray protections, but can start immediately by fulfilling the obligations already agreed internationally.”

READ MORE: Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

The research, conducted by the Global Shark Trends Project, a collaboration between researchers from SFU, James Cook University, the Georgia Aquarium and the International Union for Conservation of Nature Shark Specialist Group, reconstructed the global abundance of oceanic rays and sharks dating back to 1970. Their decline since follows an 18-fold increase in fishing activity.

SFU biologist Nick Dulvy, a paper co-author and Canada Research Chair in marine biodiversity and conservation calls the findings especially stark given their global context.

“If we don’t do anything, it will be too late. It’s much worse than other animal populations we’ve been looking at,” he said.

“It’s an incredible rate of decline steeper than most elephant and rhino declines, and those animals are iconic in driving conservation efforts on land.”

READ MORE: Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Debra Lynn photo
Mysterious smoke cloud seen in Seavac Centre

Fire crews did a thorough sweep of the centre.

North Island Gazette file photo of Port McNeill council.
Heated conversation occurs at Port McNeill council over policy request

Port McNeill mayor Gaby Wickstrom wants to see a change in the… Continue reading

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
The Port Alice pulp mill site is being ‘recycled’

Bankruptcy company is overseeing de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring.

Port Hardy Senior Citizens’ Society president Rosaline Glynn holds up the certificate from B.C. Premier John Horgan next to Loaves & Fishes director Peter Sinclair, vice president Kris Huddlestan, and Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas. (Submitted photo)
Port Hardy council to nominate Glynn for the Order of British Columbia

Glynn’s nomination was endorsed unanimously by council.

Emergency personnel crews on scene assisting BCEHS with patient care. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue photo)
Speed and alcohol believed to be the cause of Saturday night car crash

More information on the crash could potentially be released at a later date.

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read