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Is Your Tuna Melt Killing Sharks?

7/25/2017 : Rebecca Ng and Mark Powell, Vulcan Program Officers for Marine Wildlife and Illegal Fishing

Is Your Tuna Melt Killing Sharks?

7/25/2017 : Rebecca Ng and Mark Powell, Vulcan Program Officers for Marine Wildlife and Illegal Fishing

Sharks are survivors. They’ve lived on earth for over 400 million years, since before the age of dinosaurs, but sharks have never faced a threat like industrial fishing. They need a little help from their friends—that’s us—to survive the next 40 years. There are few, if any, sustainable shark fisheries, so not purposely eating sharks is a simple choice. The much trickier goal is to avoid “eating” a shark accidentally. 

It is estimated about 50 million sharks are caught unintentionally as bycatch every year. One of the main culprits? Tuna longline fisheries. In fact, sharks can make up more than a quarter of the total catch in certain tuna fisheries pushing some shark populations to the brink of extinction. So, if you eat the wrong kind of tuna you can indirectly “eat” a shark. 

 

Your Tuna Could Be Killing Sharks from Oceanic Preservation Society on Vimeo.

Fortunately, there is a solution. You can find sustainably-caught tuna from fisheries that protect sharks. Thanks to Smart Catch, a sustainable seafood program Vulcan piloted in Seattle and expanded into other markets through the James Beard Foundation, consumers can find restaurants that serve guilt-free seafood. Other options include: Choosing tuna using advice from Seafood Watch, Greenpeace’s guide to canned tuna​ (image below), or tuna certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.  

 

 

At Vulcan, we're supporting efforts to collect critical data to understand the relationship between sharks and coral reef health through Global FinPrint, and driving national and international management and protections such as Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to help protect sharks. In addition, we're collaborating with several partners to protect this diverse group of species through various initiatives focused on reducing the killing, reducing the trafficking and reducing the demand.

 

Global FinPrint Project from Global FinPrint on Vimeo.

This is something we should care about. Although much remains to be learned about the importance of sharks to marine ecosystems, what we do know suggests that losing sharks could be bad for oceans and people. Simple steps like smart purchasing can make a huge difference in our effort to protect marine wildlife. 

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