Modern forms of sharks and rays first emerged over 150 million years ago. But the introduction of modern fishing techniques has spelled disaster for these ancient creatures. Overfishing has caused massive decline in shark numbers – a huge jolt to ocean ecosystems in little over 50 years. The most serious declines have been in the Coral Triangle and Mediterranean.
In response to threats facing sharks and rays, WWF and TRAFFIC have created Sharks: Restoring the Balance an initiative to improve management of shark fisheries, reduce demand and move international trade in sharks and rays toward sustainability. We aim to ensure both sharks and rays are harvested sustainably, yielding practical benefits for people without compromising marine ecosystems. Where populations have dropped too low to be sustainably fished, complete protection may be the only answer.
A number of offices in WWF and TRAFFIC have existing projects to conserve sharks and rays.