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Oceanic sharks worldwide at serious risk from high-seas fishing, rising demand for shark products
Date:3/27/2008

harks.

The editors of this authoritative book call for improved regulatory management to rebuild shark populations before it is too late. 'Sharks of the Open Ocean' was edited by the Pew Institute for Ocean Sciences Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch and Dr. Elizabeth A. Babcock, along with lead editor Dr. Merry D. Camhi.

The book reveals that many shark populations are in severe trouble due to increasing fishing pressure, said Dr. Pikitch, Executive Director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, a major program of the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Millions of sharks are killed each year solely for their fins, and that is a key reason why shark populations are plummeting. National and international action is urgently needed now to halt these losses.

Until recently, many species of sharks and rays, particularly those that spend significant time in open ocean waters, have been a mystery to humans due to difficulties in studying their remote movement patterns and life histories. 'Sharks of the Open Ocean' documents that high-seas sharks are the predominant species captured by a wide range of commercial fishing methods, and they are among the most popular species used for shark fin soup in Asia. Oceanic sharks are particularly at risk from overfishing because they are caught in international waters where there are no limits on the amount of sharks taken.

The 11 species of sharks and one stingray addressed in this book live part or all of their lives in waters distant from continental land masses. Most are apex predators, at the top of the oceanic food chain and very important in maintaining ocean food webs. Open ocean sharks play the same role on the high seas that wolves and lions play on land, said Dr. Elizabeth A. Babcock, Chief Scientist of the Pew Institute. They are the top predators, so when their populations crash, their ecosystems become less healthy.

'Sharks of the Open Ocean
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Contact: Kathryn Cervino
kcervino@miami.edu
212-756-0042
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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