100 million sharks are killed every year by humans. With long reproduction cycles and high rates of infant mortality, sharks cannot replenish their numbers fast enough to keep up with the destruction of their species. Most sharks are now on the endangered species list. As humans are responsible for the unprecedented killings of sharks, it is up to us to stop it. However, it is hard to know where to begin.
Be A Conscientious Consumer
One of the most powerful ways you can help save sharks is by being a conscientious consumer. Sharks are used in many products so it is important you know what to look for when you are shopping so you can stop supporting this brutal industry. Here is a guide to avoid consuming shark products:
- Never eat shark meat or shark fin soup.
- As millions of sharks are killed as a byproduct of commercial fishing, only eat shark-friendly sustainable fish from trusted sources.
- Manufacturers often label shark meat as rock salmon or pollock, do not eat these fish.
- Avoid imitation crab, lobster, and shrimp, they are typically made from shark meat.
- When purchasing cosmetics and beauty products, look for the ingredient squalene. Squalene is shark liver oil and a common ingredient in things like makeup, deodorant, soap, and suntan lotion.
- Pet food also often contains shark in the ingredients fish meal or fish byproduct meal. Some pet food manufacturers sell shark meat as chew treats. Make sure you buy shark free pet foods.
- If you take chondroitin supplements, make sure they do not source the chondroitin from shark cartilage.
- Do not buy products made with shagreen. Shagreen is shark skin leather and is used to make shoes, handbags, belts, and clothing.
- There is an ethical way to buy shark souvenirs. If you want to purchase shark teeth or jaws make sure they are fossilized and not new.
- Boycott stores and restaurants that sell shark products. Let them know you will not support their business if they do not support shark conservation.
Besides avoiding products that contain shark, you can also support businesses that help with shark conservation. A great way to do this is through ecotourism and diving with sharks. If sharks are responsible for valuable tourism dollars, local governments will be more inclined to support local conservation efforts.
Donate Money To Shark Conservation Organizations
Another great way you can support shark conservation is by donating money to a shark conservation group. These groups do a range of great activities from draft and support legislation to protect sharks to educating the public on the threat to sharks and even direct action campaigns. Here is a list of great conservation groups to consider making a donation to help protect sharks:
- Predators In Peril
- Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
- The Shark Trust: http://www.sharktrust.org
- Project Aware
- Shark Angels
- The Shark Friendly Marina Initiative
- The White Shark Trust: http://www.whitesharktrust.org
- WildAid Sharks Program: http://wildaid.org/sharks
- Bite Back
- Pew Trust’s Global Shark Conservation
- Shark Rescue
- Save Our Sharks
- Shark Advocates International
- Shark Conservation Society
Help Educate People
One of the most critical components of shark conservation is public education. Most people do not know the threat sharks are facing. Others are simply scared of sharks so they don’t know the danger facing our oceans if sharks disappear. Here are some of the ways you can support shark conservation through education:
- Educate Yourself: The most powerful tool in shark conservation is knowledge. Learn the facts about sharks and about the different ways we are impacting sharks, the statistics about shark killings, and what can be done to stop it. That way when you go into your community, you can help spread the message.
- Host A Documentary Night: There are some really informative documentaries about shark conservation out there. One in particular, Sharkwater, is incredibly informative, entertaining, and best of all, available free for screenings. Whether at home or in a public place, screening a documentary is a great way to help people get informed.
- Work With Your Local Schools: One of the best ways to get the information out is at local schools. Talk to your local elementary and high schools, as well as your local universities, see if they can find ways to incorporate shark conservation information into their curriculum.
- Hold A Symposium: Many shark conservation organizations have speakers who will give public talks. If you reach out to these organizations and offer to host a symposium they will put you in contact with someone who can speak to your group about the importance of shark conservation and ways to help. You can also connect with local universities to find shark conservation experts.
Finally, one of the most effective ways to help sharks is to support local legislation. You can start by writing your representative and letting them know how important shark conservation is to you. Then any time there is an active bill that supports shark conservation by banning shark finning or fishing, limits the amounts of sharks fishermen are allowed to catch, or designates conservation zones, let your representative know you want them to support that bill.
There are many simple things you can do to help support shark conservation. If you shop conscientiously, learn the facts about sharks, educate others, and encourage and support legislation, you can help ensure that sharks will be around for generations.