Our aim is to bring attention to the plight of Mako Sharks; an IUCN vulnerable species that is widely caught by comercial vessels both as bycatch and in targeted fisheries and targeted by sport-fishers.
Makos are listed as a Vulnerable species by the IUCN redlist and populations are in decline, largely due to human-driven causes. They are sought after around the world – meat for consumption, oil for vitamins and fins for shark fin soup. In particular, Mako sharks are highly prized for their meat which is thought to be of good quality. It is commonly found on menus in many countries.
Did you know Mako Shark meat is on the menu in many seafood restaurants in the US? A search on Yelp for shark meat can bring up quite a few results. There is even a “Best Shark restaurants in San Diego” list.
Additionaly, “fish” tacos in Mexico often contain Mako meat! Makos are also targeted by sport-fishers and are often targeted in sporting tournaments because they are thought to be “fun to catch” because of their speed and power.
Mako Sharks are losing the race! Although the species currently benefits from a certain level of protection through shark management plans run by a number of countries such as the USA and Canada, there are no international agreements currently in place for this species. In addition, fishing for sharks in many places is highly unregulated and landings in these places and on in high seas fisheries is un- or under reported. Studies done by the IUCN and more recently the ICCAT have reported a dramatic decline in the Atlantic Shortfin Mako population decrease based on catch per unit effort (CPUE) of 50%. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) recently assessed Shortfin Mako in Canada as “threatened”. Mako Sharks may be the fastest sharks in the world, but if we want the species to win the race against extinction, governments must put in place stricter rules on fisheries in order to level up the playing field.
Even though fishing and serving certain shark species is technically legal in many places, the vast majority of shark meat is not sustainable. Like many mammals, generally sharks are slow to grow and to mature. Female shortfin makos do not reach sexual maturity for 18-21 years and have 10-18 pups after a 15-18 month gestation period. Age at maturity and gestation time for longfin makos is so far unknown but litter size is smaller than shortfins at 2-8 pups per litter. Because of these life history characteristics, mako sharks are cannot sustain fishing pressures the way they are.