According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), overfishing has caused the numbers of sharks and their close relatives, rays, in the Mediterranean to plummet since its last assessment in 2007. More than half of the 72 known Mediterranean species now face “an elevated risk of extinction,” states a report by the Geneva-based conservation group released on Monday.
The report says 12 shark species and eight ray species are now “Critically Endangered,” including the great white shark, the blue shark, and the smooth hammerhead shark. This would not be the first time that Mediterranean shark and ray species have become extinct, according to the report: In the past 50 years, some 13 species have become extinct. Many species take years to mature and have comparatively few young, making them especially vulnerable to overfishing.
Governments needed to “establish fishing quotas and protected areas at domestic level,” said Nick Dulvy, co-chair of the IUCN shark specialist group, in a statement. “Consumers on the other hand need to be aware of the risk of what buying these products entails.”
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