This week an illegal fishing vessel from Quepos, Costa Rica was caught long-line fishing inside the Cocos Island National Park Marine Protected Area. The carcasses of approx.100 dead scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis) and Galapagos sharks(Carcharhinus galapagensis) were also found on board. Silky sharks are listed as nearly threatened on the IUCN redlist and scalloped hammerheads are listed as endangered. 90% of cartilaginous fish stocks (sharks, rays, and their relatives) have collapsed within the past 20 years due in large part to fishing pressures like these. The marine protected area (MPA) in Cocos Island National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a no-take zone. Spanning 1,989 square kilometers it serves as important breeding, feeding, and migration habitat for sharks and other large marine animals including tuna, sea turtles, and dolphins. The protection of these areas is, therefore, crucial to the survival of sharks and other animals. Despite fishing bans, instances of illegal fishing are common here. Long-line fishing vessels cross into these protected waters to target the aggregations of tuna and sharks within. Shark populations have declined significantly in recent years, yet the sale of shark products has not. As a result, shark fishermen have been forced to go to greater lengths to procure their product – willing to illegally fish in protected areas because these are the only sharks left. Recent scientific studies suggest that many species of sharks will be extinct within the next 20 years. With illegal fishing occurrences such as this one as the norm, it is no wonder why. Don’t eat shark meat. Don’t purchase shark products.

#GameOverFishing #SilkyShark #HammerheadShark #threatenedspecies #endangeredspecies #CostaRica #WeDontEatShark #FinFree #MarineProtectedAreas #CocosIslandNationalPark

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