Shark “Massacres” Happen Every Day…We Just Don’t Hear About It

by Scott Henderson

Earlier this week, MSNBC reported a shark “massacre” in which hundreds of sharks were found dead aboard a fishing vessel captured while fishing illegally in the Galápagos Marine Reserve. Scott Henderson, director of Conservation International’s Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape program and shark expert, responds.

I’ve … had the unfortunate experience of watching shark populations decline, mostly due to overfishing and illegal fishing in protected areas. However, thanks to improved policies to reduce shark fishing, better enforcement capacity through a state-of-the-art Vessel Monitoring System, and growing political commitment in Ecuador to control the hemorrhage of shark products — especially fins destined for the lucrative Chinese market — shark fishing in the Galápagos Marine Reserve has been greatly reduced in the past few years.

Which is why news of last week’s “shark massacre” has come as such an unsettling surprise.

To my mind, the newsworthy item in this story is not that a vessel ‘massacred’ some 380 sharks, as this sort of thing happens every day — around the clock, in all oceans, by vessels of nearly every seagoing nation in the world, including the United States…

(read more: Conservation International)

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