Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Whale and winghead sharks move step closer to extinction

Two predatory species are added to IUCN Red List of endangered species as pressure from fishing sees their populations fall by half in the last 75 years

Friday 8 July 201615.58 BSTLast modified on Monday 11 July 201609.33 BST

Whale sharks and winghead sharks have moved one step closer to extinction, after the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) redefined them both as endangered species on the group’s “red list”.

The two predatory species have fallen foul of increased pressure from human activity, especially the fishing industry, with populations of whale sharks – the world’s largest living fish – halving in the last 75 years.

Jane Smart, the director of the IUCN’s Global Species programme said: “It is alarming to see such emblematic species slide towards extinction. The world’s oceans and forests will only continue to provide us with food and other benefits if we preserve their capacity to do so.”

Whale sharks continue to be killed by ship propellers and fishing fleets, particularly in China and Oman. Whale sharks are often present in tuna shoals, and are frequently landed by fishermen as incidental catch.

“While international whale shark trade is regulated through the species’ listing on the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), more needs to be done domestically to protect whale sharks at a national level,” said Simon Pierce, the IUCN’s lead red list assessor.

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