A new interactive infographic, from the environmental organization Project AWARE®, illustrates the full story of current, trade-related threats to shark and ray populations.
It is based on the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2015 report “State of the Global Market for Shark Products” by Felix Dent and Shelley Clarke.
The appetite for shark fin soup has played a major role in shark overfishing and is often positioned as the main threat to sharks today.
Recent data on international trade in shark fins and meat analyzed in the report, however, reveals a global, interdependent market for a variety of shark products across scores of countries, including several in South America and Europe whose demand for shark meat places them among the world’s top shark consumers.
“With so many shark species and products in trade, it can be difficult to get your head around what is really happening,” says Dr Shelley Clarke, co-author of the FAO shark trade report and shark fisheries scientist.
“Understanding sources and trends is a critical step toward making sure the trade is sustainable and traceable, and the underlying fisheries are properly managed.”
With technical assistance from Dr. Clarke, as well as Sonja Fordham, a shark and ray policy expert, Project AWARE created a visual representation of the report that debunks myths about the global shark trade and points the way to key improvements.
“In addition to mapping out the top shark trading countries and routes, the infographic offers a close look at the challenges researchers face when studying these global markets, and highlights the measures necessary to increase trade traceability and sustainability,” said Domino Albert, Project AWARE’s Associate Director for Global Communications.
The infographic reveals the significant growth in markets for shark and ray meat, as well as the countries and inadequately restricted fisheries associated with this largely under-the-radar trade.
“The shark fin trade is at long last receiving worldwide attention from the media, conservationists, and law-makers, but we must urgently broaden our horizons to also consider other threats to sharks and closely related rays,” said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International, a project of The Ocean Foundation.
“We hope that Project AWARE’s initiative will shine light on these emerging issues and channel public concern toward workable solutions, before it’s too late.”