Global fishing trends have put sharks at risk

November 09 2006 at 02:03AM

Beijing - Much of the world's shark population could be wiped out in 10 years if current fishing trends continue, a news report quoted environmentalists as saying on Wednesday.

One third of the more than 400 shark species are threatened with extinction or are close to being threatened, Sarah Fowler of the World Conservation Union said, according to the Xinhua news agency.

"Fisheries can remove 50 to 90 percent of an entire shark stock in only 10 years," Fowler was quoted as telling a shark conservation conference in Beijing.

Fowler's comments could not be immediately verified.

She and other experts at the conference said governments and non-governmental organisations had to work together to educate the public and fishermen about the dangers to sharks from overfishing.

The conference was co-sponsored by the San Francisco-based conservation group WildAid, the organisation which got basketball star Yao Ming in August to pledge to give up eating shark's fin soup, a Chinese delicacy, as part of a campaign to promote wildlife protection in his homeland.

WildAid says China is the world's biggest importer of shark's fins, which conservationists say are cut from sharks that are thrown back into the ocean to die. WildAid put the worldwide trade in shark's fins at 10 000 tons a year.

Fowler estimated that 38-million to 70-million sharks are killed each year for their fins.

"It is difficult to change people's dining habits, but we can educate and engage the public to achieve sustainable development of the sharks and people's dining culture," Li Yanliang, deputy general director of the Aquatic Wild Fauna and Flora Administrative Office under the Ministry of Agriculture, was quoted as saying. - Sapa-AP

Informant: Scott Munson

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