How to Help Protect Sharks

Three Methods:Changing Your Purchasing HabitsJoining the FightEducating Yourself

Sharks are losing the battle for survival, as every year humans kill more than 100 million of them.[1] While sharks are killed in a variety of ways, most often they die because they are caught up in fishing practices or killed for their fins. Sharks are slow to reach breeding maturity. Many don't reach this maturity until 12 - 20 years of age. This slow rate of reproduction means that they're not able to replace themselves fast enough to make up for the overfishing and poaching.[2] Sharks have been around for over 400 million years, they are intelligent animals and are a necessary piece of healthy ocean ecosystems.[3] In order not to lose them in the space of a human generation, risks to their health need to be more well known and efforts to save them need to be increased.

Method 1
Changing Your Purchasing Habits

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    Research why sharks are in danger. In order to change your buying practices to protect sharks, you need to have a little bit of information. Understanding what the risks are to sharks can help you to understand how your purchases can promote their death. Causes for the loss of sharks include:[4]
    • Overfishing – commercial fishing practices cause about 50 percent of all shark deaths, as by-catch.
    • Products – shark fins, jaws, liver, cartilage, skins and teeth all have a vibrant market in some parts of the world.
    • Fear – ignorance and fear causes the loss of many sharks in waters all around the world.
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    Buy fish that are caught without risk to sharks. Don't buy fish from companies that don't protect sharks. Many sharks are killed when they are accidentally caught up in fishing nets. The fisheries are not intentionally catching sharks but they are also not putting in protections that could save the lives of sharks.[5]
    • Buying fish from companies that protect sharks is important. This shows companies that shark protections are important to consumers.
    • To find those companies that do protect sharks, do some research online. You can usually find lists of companies that actively protect sharks on shark protection groups' websites.[6]
    • There are also a wide variety of fish that you can eat that are caught nowhere near sharks. These types of fish, such as lake or stream caught fish, are a good alternative to ocean caught fish if you are concerned with protecting sharks.
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    Don't buy shark products. Be aware of the types of shark products that are out there and refuse to consume them. Sharks are used for shark fins, jaws, liver, cartilage, skins and teeth. The purpose of these products varies, from purported medicinal uses to souvenirs. Help others become aware of the problems and encourage them to stop buying such products as well.[7]
    • Outside of Asia not many products, such as shark oil or shark skin wallets, are made. However, some restaurants still serve shark on their menus. Don't go to restaurants that serve shark on the menu and encourage your family and friends to do the same.
    • To take it a step further, write or call the owners of a restaurant that serves shark and let them know why you're not going to their restaurant. Also ask them to stop using shark products. There are valid replacements for shark in food dishes.

Method 2
Joining the Fight

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    Find out what shark protection measures are already in place in your country. Are they adequate measures or not? Are there some species still not protected? Does your country ban the importation of shark fins or other products? What are the assumptions about sharks held by the politicians and bureaucrats in your country? Once you find out, you can then write letters of concern along with suggestions for how your country could be better protecting sharks.[8]
    • For example, The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has pushed to protect a variety of species of sharks that are targeted for their fins. These include all hammerhead sharks, the oceanic whitetip shark, and the porbeagle shark.[9] These protections have led to more clampdowns on illegal shark fin shipping and trade.[10]
    • One person you can write to is the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Request that international action be taken to ban shark finning and the trade in shark fins.
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    Join an organization that cares about the future of sharks. There are numerous organizations that are raising awareness and actively putting programs into place to help keep sharks thriving in ocean waters. For example, one such organization, The Sea Shepherd, has turned its attention to sharks, as well as dolphins, in light of the dire threat facing sharks. Sea Shepherds is confiscating illegally taken fins, pulling in long-lines and freeing caught sharks and defending against poachers, among other actions.[11]
    • Other organizations that are raising awareness and acting on shark protection include Protect the Sharks Foundation[12], The Humane Society,,, The Dorsal Fin, Saving, and more.
    • Many local environmental groups you might be a part of could have an interest in sharks too. If not, your query might spark their interest!
    • You can become involved in these groups in a variety of ways. You could simply give them money so that they can continue their work. You could also become an active member, working on projects with the organization that actively help to eliminate the killing of sharks. Whatever level of involvement you are comfortable with you should do.
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    Hold an information awareness event at your school, university, college, or community center. Help spread the news about the fate of sharks to other people. Provide information in the form of pamphlets, speakers, movies, and other means for getting the information across.
    • You could turn it into a fundraising event as well. Pick a shark organization you believe in and send the money to that organization once the fundraiser is over.

Method 3
Educating Yourself

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    Research the likelihood of being killed by a shark. In North America, you are 30 times more likely to be killed by lightning than by a shark and more people are killed by falling vending machines than by sharks.[13] Shark stories are sensational, big news items that make for dramatic reading. Unfortunately, this tends to make people fear sharks instead of seeking to understand them better.[14]
    • Sharks account for approximately a dozen human deaths a year. Compare that to car accident deaths, not to mention the number of sharks that are killed each year, and you'll begin to see the bigger picture.[15]
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    Learn about the shark species that are in danger. There are over 110 species of sharks that are now listed as under threat on the World Conservation Union's Red List, while another 95 species are near threatened.[16] Do some research and learn about some of these sharks and why they are threatened.
    • Because there are a variety of reasons that sharks are at risk, it can be enlightening to research individual species and understand the obstacles they face for survival.
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    Explore the ways in which sharks ensure a healthy ocean ecology. These predators ensure health in the ocean by keeping other ocean populations under control and by removing diseased and genetically defective individuals from other species. As an apex predator (like wolves and lions), their loss would weaken the ocean ecology and cause an imbalance of many other species.[17]
    • An apex predator is an animal that is at the top of its food chain, and thus is not preyed on my any other animal.[18]


  • Consider getting involved in shark tourism. Go for a snorkel or dive with sharks with those who run shark tourism. If you think this is dangerous, you don't know your sharks.

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Categories: Animal Welfare Activism | Wildlife