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Date [ 2015-02-10, 06:14 ]

Both species are endangered and should be left alone in the wild.

A White Shark patrols the ocean bottom

Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) Lui Lai Keen = Sharks are said to be over 400 million years old and have been the King of the Sea rhar long. But Man with his relentless hunting, has made  a quarter of all species of sharks and their close cousins, the skates and rays, close  to extinction. Fisheries by catch and virtually ubiquitous and relentless direct fishing pressure, targeting fins, meat and other products, are driving serious population declines in ocean and freshwater ecosystems. Many tens of millions are killed each year.

Sharks and rays play crucial roles in both coastal and oceanic ecosystems. Some of the world’s oldest remaining vertebrates, today these powerful predators are particularly vulnerable to overfishing. The fact that they are also slow growers and so mature very  late, and result in producing just a few young pups. Manta rays reach maturity at 8-10 years of age and give birth to a single pup every 1-3 years.

Unfortunately, most shark and ray fisheries are unregulated and very few are subject to strict fishing limits. Saving sharks and rays will require action at many levels, including the adoption of measures to ensure that international trade in their fins, meat, skin, ray gill rakers, and other parts and products is sustainable. WCS-supported research estimates that 26 to 73 million sharks are killed annually for the shark fin soup trade. Giant manta and reef manta rays are killed for their gill rakers, which are used to make an Asian “health tonic.”

Sharks and rays are targeted in commercial and recreational fisheries and taken as a by-catch in fisheries targeting other species like tuna and swordfish. Although shark meat is an important source of protein in many coastal communities, the demand for shark fin soup drives the unsustainable exploitation of these species; the wasteful and inhumane practice of finning – cutting the fins off sharks and dumping them back into the ocean – leads to the killing of animals that might otherwise have been released back to the sea alive. Furthermore, sharks and rays cannot easily recover from overfishing; unlike most bony fishes that mature quickly and lay millions of eggs at a time, cartilaginous fishes mature quite slowly and bear relatively few young.

The conservation community celebrated a historic achievement in March 2013 with the successful listing of seven heavily traded, threatened shark and ray species on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).These were the oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini), great hammerhead shark (S. mokarran), smooth hammerhead shark (S. zygaena), porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus), and manta rays (Manta spp.) They joined the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) and whale shark (Rhincodon typus), which were added to Appendix II in February 2003. All species of sawfish are included in CITES Appendix I

 Building on this conservation milestone, the Wildlife Conservation Socities(WCS) and  partners, with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, are developing a global 10-year initiative to conserve the earth’s sharks and rays. More specifically, WCS is leading efforts to develop a global conservation strategy that will strengthen protection for imperiled species; improve fisheries management globally; bolster control and monitoring of trade in shark and ray products; and reduce market demand for shark fins, manta and devil ray gill plates, and other products from endangered or overfished shark and ray species.

A Spooted Eagle Ray majextically swims by.

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