Some shark populations have dropped by 90%. The oceanic white tip shark has been decreased by 99%! All in the last thirty years! Sharks are being fished at the rate of 100,000,000 sharks per year. 10,000 sharks an hour.
One third of all pelagic sharks are threatened with extinction, and half of the shark species targeted by commercial fisheries are threatened. In 2010, The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species included 74 shark species as being at high risk of extinction (Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable).
Another 72 shark species are currently approaching threatened status (Near Threatened) and another 232 shark species are listed as Data Deficient since there is not enough information available to assess their population numbers. Effectively, as there are roughly 500 species of sharks, the IUCN has assessed 30% of all shark species at either a High Risk of Extinction or approaching this status. And for almost every one of these species, the population trend is “Decreasing” or “Unknown”.
For many shark species, the IUCN lists “shark finning” as the main cause of population decline. Concurrently, some of the species at greatest risk are those that are highly prized in the shark fin trade including Great and Scalloped Hammerheads, listed as Endangered / at a Very High Risk of Extinction. Additionally, Smooth Hammerhead; Great White Shark; Whale Shark; Basking Shark; Oceanic Whitetip; Shortfin and Longfin Mako; Porbeagle Shark; Sand Tiger Shark; Bigeye, Common and Pelagic Thresher; Sandbar Shark; and the Dusky Shark – are all listed as Vulnerable / at a High Risk of Extinction.
Sharks reproduce very slowly, have long gestation periods and reach sexual maturity very late, and as a result, do not get a chance to rebound their population numbers before being indiscriminately fished out again. Sharks have survived more than 400 million years, but at the current rate of destruction, they are not considered a renewable resource. Some scholars estimate sharks could fundamentally disappear within the next ten to twenty years.