(From seattletimes.nwsource.com) The Mediterranean Sea, Francesco Ferretti says, is “a very dangerous place for a shark.”
So dangerous that in the past two centuries, the shark population there has plummeted by more than 97 percent, both in relative numbers and collective weight, according to a study by the graduate student, two colleagues at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and an Italian researcher.
Several factors help explain why the shark population has declined in the Mediterranean, Ferretti said. Fishing vessels are targeting them to meet the Asian demand for shark-fin soup, he said, while simultaneously trying to compensate for the fact that they have depleted other fisheries.
“Some fishers have decided to switch to sharks because they cannot make up their product with bony fish,” he said, noting that the presence of so many countries bordering the Mediterranean has contributed to the fishing pressure there.
“At these levels, these sharks can be considered functionally extinct, meaning that they cannot perform their role of top predators in the Mediterranean marine ecosystems anymore,” he said. Ferretti and his colleagues published their findings in this month’s issue of the journal Conservation Biology.