Shark Species In Gulf Need Protection

Red Sea sharks are threatened by Yemenese poachers who sell their fins to Asia for a fit price.

But it turns out that Arabian Gulf shark species are also vulnerable.

So much so that conservationists have advised regional environmental groups and governments to set aside sanctuaries that will protect them.

As predators, sharks play an essential role in any marine ecosystem.

Without them, prey are able to proliferate, in turn eradicating food lower on the chain.

Failure to institute substantial measures to protect Gulf sharks would lead to a serious imbalance, and harm the economics of people who rely on it.

International experts gathered in Abu Dhabi last week at the Marine Conservation Forum 2010 to discuss the 25 shark and other species in the Gulf that require urgent attention, but which are not currently protected by international treaties.

Governments and environmentalists were warned that in the North Atlantic, where shark numbers have declined precipitously, populations of rays exploded.

They in turn gobbled up the scallops on which local fishermen relied for an income.

Susan Lieberman from the Environmental Pew Group said evidence suggests that Gulf sharks are also being fished for their fins for a soup that has no nutritional value.

Annually, the ecological services of 73 million sharks are wrested from oceans and seas for what certain Asian populations consider a delicacy.

In the Gulf, reef sharks are especially susceptible to harm.

If they go, the health of the entire coral reef system would be in peril.

Because sharks do not produce young until after 12 to 13 years, their populations are not easily revived.

Setting aside sanctuaries in the Gulf would go a long way to ensure their propagation.