Κen Kiefer, Bahamas
Recently, Greece has witnessed a series of shark sightings, evoking diverse reactions among the local communities. Instead of allowing fear stemming from ignorance to prevail, let us gain a deeper understanding of these creatures.
Why are sharks fascinating?
Sharks are amazing creatures due to their incredible resilience. They have survived mass extinctions and adapted to changing environmental conditions, persevering in our oceans for over 400 million years. As top predators, they play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem. By preying on the sick and weak populations, they help ensure the health of their prey species and indirectly contribute to the well-being of habitats like sea meadows.
Κen Kiefer, Bahamas
Why is shark conservation important?
Shark conservation is of utmost importance and contrary to popular belief, sharks pose minimal threat to humans. Nonetheless, they face significant threats from human activities. While sharks accidentally cause approximately 4-5 human deaths each year, mainly because they mistake humans in the water for prey, 100.000.000(!) of sharks are estimated to be killed by humans annually. Since the mid-1980s, overfishing has been a major threat to shark populations. The demand for shark products, particularly in Asian markets, drives their overexploitation. This unsustainable practice hinders their ability to recover and restore their populations. Shark finning, a particularly cruel practice where sharks are caught, have their fins sliced off, and are then discarded back into the sea, adds to their plight.
Today, sharks are listed on the IUCN’s Red List of threatened species. The decline in shark populations has far-reaching consequences for ocean health, biodiversity, and ultimately, our own lives. Recognizing the importance of shark conservation, the European Union has implemented various measures to protect them (Council Regulation EU 2023/194). These include:
- strict protection of endangered species
- sustainable management of commercial shark items
- improved data collection, support for research on shark biology, ecology, and management
- enforcement of relevant rules
- traceability and certification of sustainably harvested shark products.
Katerina Topouzoglou, Mexico
It is crucial to shift our perspective on sharks and move beyond fear. As wild creatures encountered in their natural environment, they deserve our respect. By gaining a deeper understanding of sharks, we can dispel the misconception of them being monsters and instead recognize their significance as a key factor in maintaining the balance of our planet.