Many people have a great fear of sharks. In movies and in the media, sharks are portrayed as vicious predators that will kill people at any opportunity. Those scientists who work with sharks know that this is not the case. Sharks are of great benefit to the ocean environment. Without the presence of sharks, many of the other fish populations in the ocean would suffer dire consequences.
Unfortunately, sharks around the world are in peril due to a number of different causes. In order to protect shark populations, legislation has been proposed in the state of Hawaii that will provide first of its kind protections for sharks within the waters of the United States.
According to the proposed legislation, all varieties of sharks will be protected. Any killing of a shark will be prohibited. In addition, any type of maiming or intentional harming of a shark will be prohibited as well.
Sharks living in the waters off of Hawaii currently face three major threats. One of the threats that sharks face is due to consumption of shark meat. Shark is not a popular food fish in the United States, but there is a market for shark in many Asian countries. Of more consequences is the hunting of sharks who are then “finned”. “Finning” is the process by which sharks are caught for the purpose of cutting off their fins for shark fin soup. The sharks are then thrown back into the water to die painful deaths. Sport fishing for sharks is another major cause of shark population decline. “Big game” fishers like to catch great white sharks and other larger shark species.
According to scientists, sharks in Hawaiian waters need protection to benefit the entire ecosystem. Sharks help the ocean remain healthy. They eat fish who are sick helping to stop the spread of disease. Sharks also prey on those fish who eat smaller fish. This allows the population of smaller fish to remain stable.
In addition to protecting sharks, the proposed legislation in Hawaii will also extend protection to rays. Rays are facing threats from a number of sources as well. By protecting both sharks and rays, the legislation will keep the number of these animals thriving in Hawaiian waters.