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Entangled Tiger Shark

One Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) is having a rough time these days as a victim of an entanglement, most likely a result of unsustainable fishing.

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Tiger sharks are listed as Near Threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, which means it’s close to qualifying for a threatened category in the near future, and unfortunately their population is currently declining. Shark culling, shark finning, and fisheries are the main threats to tiger sharks. Gill nets and drumlines are installed off beaches in South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia as shark culling efforts to reduce attacks on bathers and surfers.

Bycatch happens when fishermen accidentally catch a fish they didn’t mean to catch. Tiger sharks are sometimes caught as by-kill in tuna and swordfish longlining industries, so you should try to only eat pole or handline caught tuna so as to not support this industry. Bycatch is something that cannot be reduced with laws or legal protections; it just leads to the unwanted fish being thrown back into the ocean, dead or alive.

Once the fishing gear is lost in the ocean, it is called a Ghost Net and it continues to wreak havoc on marine life long after it was discarded. Millions of creatures, including our local tiger shark, end up entangled in ghost nets, as the marine animals are often attracted to floating debris. 46% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is thought to be made up of abandoned fishing gear[2]! This fishing gear can end up abandoned in a variety of ways, from being snagged on rocks and coral, breaking off, being lost in the current when thrown overboard, or some are even tossed overboard once they’re no longer useful to the fishermen!

There are a few things you can do to not support big fishing industries that produce bycatch and ghost nets. This month is #FishFreeFebruary so try skipping the seafood this month! Additionally, getting your seafood from smaller fishing vessels is much more sustainable than purchasing from larger seafood corporations; although farming can also come with environmental issues, farmed seafood is also a better way to go as those fish were specifically raised to become a meal. Farmed fish reduce the bycatch of species not meant to be caught, leaving more sharks free to swim in the ocean as they were meant to do.

For more information on #FishFreeFebruary and the effects of bycatch, ghost nets, and other fishing industry problems, you can visit https://www.fishfreefebruary.com/ and don’t forget to learn more about Tiger Sharks by taking our Tiger Shark Shark Course at https://www.learn.sharklife.co.za/

Written by Tasha Haight 

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