Last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the school shark as critically endangered. But that hasn’t stopped it from being regularly sold in Australian fish shops.
While the international group chose one designation for the shark, Australian authorities put the species in a category known as “conservation dependent.” This means people can commercially trade the shark despite it being endangered.
“It’s a quirk in our national laws that prioritizes commercial exploitation and economic drivers over environmental ones,” said Leonardo Guida, a shark scientist and spokesperson for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, as reported in The Guardian. “We stopped harvesting whales for that very reason. Why is it different for a shark? Why is it different for a fish? There is no reason why any animal that has had a 90% decline in modern times should still continue to be harvested.”
School sharks are smaller sharks that can measure up to 6 feet long and live for up to 60 years. This migratory species is found in many parts of the world, including off the shores of Brazil, Iceland, British Columbia, the U.K., Azores, Canary Islands and New Zealand. But they would be wise to steer clear of Australia, where their meat is sometimes sold as “flake,” Australia’s generic term for the shark meat popularly sold by fish and chip shops.
The school shark is one of several animal species listed as conservation dependent that experts say should actually qualify for stronger protection. The school shark population has plummeted to 10% of its original numbers since 1990, when the species was officially declared as overfished.
Countries recently voted to list the school shark on the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) appendices. This international agreement tries to get countries to cooperate in conserving migratory species. Australia was the only country to vote against it, claiming that the school shark population found in the ocean around Australia doesn’t migrate.
Via The Guardian
Image via Queensland State Archives