NEW YORK Populations of tiger, bull, dusky and
other sea sharks have plummeted by more than 95 percent since
the 1970s as fisherman kill the animals for their fins or when
they scoop other fish from the ocean, according to an expert
from the World Conservation Union, or IUCN.
At particular risk is the scalloped hammerhead shark, whose
young swim mostly in shallow waters along shores all over the
world to avoid predators.
The scalloped hammerhead will be listed on the 2008 IUCN
Red List as globally "endangered" due to overfishing and high
demand for its valuable fins in the shark fin trade, said Julia
Baum, a member of the IUCN's shark specialist group.
"As a result of high and mostly unrestricted fishing
pressure, many sharks are now considered to be at risk of
extinction," Baum said in a statement.
The numbers of many other large shark species have plunged
due to increased demand for shark fins and meat, recreational
shark fisheries, as well as tuna and swordfish fisheries, where
millions of sharks are taken as bycatch each year, said Baum, a
fellow at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.
Last year, IUCN put the great hammerhead, the largest of
the nine species of hammerhead, on the Red List as
"endangered." IUCN said in September that numbers of the shark
in the eastern Atlantic may have crashed by 80 percent in the
last 25 years.
Hammerhead meat has a very low value but the sharks are
among the most endangered species because their fins are highly
prized for the Asian delicacy shark-fin soup. In shark finning,
fishermen chop the fins of the animals and dump the sharks back
into the sea.
Fishing for sharks in international waters is unrestricted,
said Baum, who supports a recently adopted U.N. resolution
calling for immediate shark catch limits and a ban on shark
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner, editing by Stuart Grudgings)