Headlines:Deepwater Sharks and Rays Face Rising Extinction Risk (Mar 8 2024)

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Deepwater Sharks and Rays Face Rising Extinction Risk (Mar 8 2024)

Deepwater Sharks and Rays Face Rising Extinction Risk
Deepwater Sharks and Rays Face Rising Extinction Risk

In a study spanning eight years, researchers have unveiled alarming findings regarding the fate of deepwater sharks and rays. The study, published in Science, underscores a dire reality: one in seven species of deepwater sharks and rays faces a heightened risk of extinction due to overfishing and commercial exploitation.

Key Findings

  1. Overfishing Threat: Deepwater sharks and rays are being exploited for their meat and liver oil, driving them toward extinction.
  2. Sensitive to Exploitation: The study reveals that these marine creatures are highly sensitive to overexploitation, exacerbating the risk of extinction.
  3. Urgent Call to Action: Researchers emphasize the urgent need for proactive measures to protect deepwater sharks and rays, including trade regulations and habitat conservation efforts.

The primary culprit behind this existential threat mirrors the plight of their shallow-water counterparts: overfishing. Sharks often fall victim to commercial fisheries targeting other species, their flesh and liver oil coveted commodities driving a global trade.

Dr. Nicholas Dulvy, a Professor at Simon Fraser University, underscores the fragility of these deep-sea denizens, noting their sensitivity to even minimal fishing pressure. Their pivotal ecological role cannot be overstated; deepwater sharks and rays serve as custodians of the deep, orchestrating the dispersal of nutrients and maintaining the delicate equilibrium of oceanic ecosystems.

In response to the escalating crisis, researchers propose two strategic conservation approaches aligned with the Convention on Biological Diversity's "30 by 30" framework. The first involves the establishment of a global depth limit, curtailing fishing activities beyond designated depths to provide vertical refuge. The second approach advocates for the creation of spatial no-take areas, offering horizontal refuge to vulnerable species.

The escalating threat of extinction among deepwater sharks and rays demands immediate attention from policymakers, conservationists, and the public alike. Without decisive intervention, the delicate balance of marine ecosystems could be irreparably disrupted.

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