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The issues that fishing bring to the shark population have gotten out of control, endangering a species that is vital to the ocean’s ecosystem. Sharks have been around far longer than humans and have made a place in Earth’s oceans permanently. Recently, that seems to have been changing due to excess fishing and a high demand for shark fins and the natural human fear that comes along with the unknown.
After interviewing fellow classmates, it has become clear that due to the antagonizing publications about attacks caused by sharks, a fear of the species has developed. This then makes fishermen feel the need to make the water safer for human kind. Sadly, by adjusting their job in order to supply more people with fish, they are actually causing more of an issue than what is necessary. Overfishing is not just harming all of the marine life that is caught in traps, but it is also hurting human populations. Due to current laws that state that fishermen are only allowed to fish past a certain point away from popular beaches, fishermen are killing populations of fish that are known to belong to the diet of various shark species. This then forces sharks to search closer to populated beaches for their food. We have seen the consequences of this because the way that people swim appears similar to that of a wounded fish, confusing sharks and causing an increase in shark attacks. Widespread attacks then spread through media and scare people, leading to , as aforementioned, further hunting of a creature that is just trying to live safely in its habitat.
Social media and news outlets are not the only cause of the drastic decline in shark populations around the world. In the newer generation, it’s obvious that, thanks to programs like Shark Week, movies are not generating as much fear as that of older generations. For example, when Jaws came out in 1975, worry and fear about sharks were at a minimal level, but this increased after the movie’s release. Fishermen from all around the world set out to cause a mass-genocide for the species around the globe. BBC News even stated that “between 1986 and 2000, in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, there was a population decline of 89 percent in hammerhead sharks, 79 percent in great white sharks, and 65 percent in tiger sharks.” (BBC News) BBC News suggested that Jaws not only misrepresented the great white shark, this causes mass misrepresentation to one of the biggest species of sharks that is currently alive. Which leads to a wide variety of audiences forming their fears and taking actions accordingly.
As the demand for shark fin soup rises, the population of the shark species also decreases. Even with fishing laws set in place, due to the lack of regulations in place, fishermen still catch endangered species of sharks. For example, “The Adelaide River in Australia’s Northern Territory is a popular recreational fishing area, as well as habitat for threatened and protected river sharks.” (Peter Kyne) Kyne basically explains that populated fishing areas are also habitats to endangered species of sharks. Since there are no fishing licenses required to fish in this river, uneducated fishermen can easily gain fishing access in this area and fish however they please. Because of the fact that they are uneducated, they will catch an endangered species and sell it later.
The main reason that people fish sharks is for their fins. After the shark is caught, endangered or not, fishermen will cut off its fins and then throw the shark back into the water to drown. No species deserves this kind of cruelty. This is also increasingly dangerous to humans because, when catching a shark, they chum the water in order to attract them; this, in itself, is illegal. Due to the chum in the water, the sharks start a feeding frenzy and if anyone falls into the water, there is a good chance that they could get bit and possibly get some type of fatal injury. Now, it’s understandable that someone could make the argument of "why even let these creatures roam the oceans and cause hazardous conditions for humans?" The only reasons that sharks would attack an overboard fisherman is because of all the chum in the water. That and the type of swimming that person who is panicking does in order to get back to the safety of the boat causes vibrations in the water that simulate that of injured prey. A combination of these things could confuse the shark and cause it to bite the person. Not because sharks love eating human flesh, but because they have horrible vision. Sharks roll their eyes to the back of their head when they go to take a bite and the fishermen-caused feeding frenzy makes it increasingly hard for the shark to differentiate prey from non-prey. These creatures do not mean to cause harm to the human population, but instead are only trying to survive in their natural habitat. Which is being destroyed by overfishing.
Therefore, overfishing is a massive threat to marine wildlife, but more specifically than that—sharks. As mentioned before, this is because not only are fisherman killing the sharks natural prey, but they’re forcing sharks to hunt closer to populated areas, causing widespread panic and endangering their species all together. Which, in return, is damaging the ecosystem because the shark species has been around for billions of years and made their way into the evolving process of millions of species of fish and the ocean's ecosystem.