Sharks: among the world’s most threatened vertebrates
21st January 2014, Plymouth: The Shark Trust, the UK charity for shark conservation, identified today’s analysis of the IUCN Global Shark Red List Assessment as a wake-up call for shark conservation and management efforts.
The results of the IUCN analysis confirm that the world’s 1,041 shark, skate, ray and chimaera species are among its most threatened animals. An estimated one quarter of all species are threatened and only one third considered safe (a smaller proportion than any other vertebrate group). The largest, most charismatic shallow water species, including Angelsharks, Thresher Sharks and Sawfishes, are under greatest threat. The Northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean are among the world’s ‘hot-spots’ for threatened shallow water and also deepwater species – the latter because fisheries have ventured deeper here than in most other parts of the world.
Europe’s history of fisheries and fisheries research has led to a better understanding of the 102 Northeast Atlantic species than in many other regions. Relatively accurate information is available for nearly 80% of species compared to just over 50% in the global assessment enabling more informed judgements to be made. There is however, a down-side to this long history of fisheries: 38% of the 81 Northeast Atlantic species whose status could be assessed are threatened, compared with 32% of the world’s data sufficient species.
The UK-based Shark Trust, which has been at the forefront of efforts to protect threatened sharks over the past 17 years, regularly uses IUCN Red List assessments to set its conservation and management priorities. Two Critically Endangered regional species, the Angelshark and the now ironically named Common [Flapper] Skate, have been a particular focus for the Shark Trust’s conservation efforts in the UK and Europe and will remain so.
Sarah Fowler (Founding Trustee of the Shark Trust and former Shark Specialist Group Chair and Red List project leader) said: “This is the culmination of more than a decade’s effort by hundreds of shark scientists who generously donated their time and expertise to the Shark Red List assessment. I am so proud to have been a part of these efforts and look forward to seeing the results converted into improved shark and ray conservation and management actions, in the UK, Europe and world-wide.”
Ali Hood, Shark Trust Director of Conservation, said “This analysis of the status of over 1,000 species of sharks and their relatives is a vital resource for directing our conservation efforts where they are most urgently needed – for example, five of the seven most threatened families are rays. And whilst it remains essential to secure effective management and protection for all chondrichthyans, through both domestic and multilateral agreements, the Trust hopes that this report will help swing the spotlight of concern onto those less charismatic, flat-bodied relations of sharks – species for which the Shark Trust has long campaigned.”
Notes to editors:
The Shark Trust was established in 1997, and is the UK registered charity which works to advance the worldwide conservation of sharks through science, education, influence and action. Our vision is a world where sharks thrive within a globally healthy marine ecosystem. The Trust is an effective and well respected advocate for sound shark management and protection and works through cross-sectoral collaboration and where possible works with governments, industry and other stakeholder groups to attain sustainable goals.
Sarah Fowler, Shark Trust Founder, initiated and led the IUCN Shark Specialist Group’s Global Shark Red List Assessment work from 1996 to 2009.
IUCN Red List Assessments can be viewed on www.iucnredlist.org. Assessments for every species of shark, skate, ray and chimaera can be extracted by typing ‘Chondrichthyes’ into the search box on this site.
For more information contact the Shark Trust:
+44 (0) 1752 672020
Director of Conservation, Ali Hood: 07855 386083
Trustee, Sarah Fowler: 07764 604046
The Shark Trust
4 Creykes Court,
5 Craigie Drive,
PL1 3JB UK
Ph/fax +44 (0) 1752 672008
Charity No: 1064185
Registered Company No: 3396164