Many sharks closer to extinction than feared: Red List | 2019-03-23 |

Many sharks closer to extinction than feared: Red List

23 March, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Many sharks closer to extinction than feared: Red List

PARIS: Human appetites are pushing makos and other iconic sharks to the brink of extinction, scientists warned in a new assessment of the apex predator’s conservation status, reports AFP.

Seventeen of 58 species evaluated were classified as facing extinction, the Shark Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation (IUCN) said late Thursday in an update of the Red List of threatened animals and plants.

“Our results are alarming,” said Nicholas Dulvy, who chairs the grouping of 174 experts from 55 countries. “The sharks that are especially slow-growing, sought-after and unprotected from overfishing tend to be the most threatened.”

That category includes the shortfin mako, whose cruising speed of 40 km/h (25 mph) — punctuated by bursts of more than 70 km/h—makes it the fastest of all sharks.

Along with its longfin cousin, the two makos are highly prized for their flesh and fins, considered a delicacy in Chinese and other Asian culinary traditions.

“Today, one of the biggest shark fisheries on the high seas is the mako,” Dulvy told AFP. “It is also one of the least protected.”

In May, nations will vote on a proposal by Mexico to list the shortfin mako on Appendix II of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

An Appendix II status would not ban fishing or trade, but would regulate it.

Six of the species reviewed were listed as “critically endangered,” three for the first time: the whitefin swellshark, the Argentine angel shark, and the smoothback angel shark.

Eleven others were classified as either “endangered” or “vulnerable” to extinction.