The total number could in fact be anywhere between 63 million and 273 million sharks a year, according to the research published in Marine Policy (Photo : Reuters)
Common sense might tell you humans should be terrified of sharks, but according to new research, the inverse of that statement may actually be more accurate. Roughly 100 million sharks are killed every year, and fishing rates are so high that shark populations aren't able to recoup the tremendous numbers lost, researchers estimate, according to The Guardian.
"Our analysis shows that about one in 15 sharks gets killed by fisheries every year," said study leader Boris Worm, a professor of biology at Canada's Dalhousie University, in a statement, Live Science reported. "With an increasing demand for their fins, sharks are more vulnerable today than ever before."
Researchers are presenting the information as part of a new study to The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Monday in Bangkok. The gathering will reportedly discuss the necessity of increased protection measures for sharks to aid in preventing the potential extinction of numerous shark species - such as porbeagles, oceanic whitetip and three kinds of hammerhead - in the next few decades.
Scientists have become especially concerned as use of shark fins for shark fin soup - a delicacy in Asia - is largely unregulated in the region.
Shark populations are particularly at risk for extinction due to overfishing because they grow very slowly and also aren't quick to reproduce, according to Live Science. In just 2010, scientists in the study estimated that recorded catches, "unreported landings, discards and sharks caught and thrown back after their fins were cut off (finning)" totaled as much as 97 million fish.
The researchers' estimate is slightly less than the 100 million reportedly caught in 2000. However, the total number could in fact be anywhere between 63 million and 273 million sharks a year, according to the research published in Marine Policy, The Guardian noted. The number is so high it roughly amounts to between 6.4 percent 7.9 percent of all sharks on Earth killed every year.
"Biologically, sharks simply can't keep up with the current rate of exploitation and demand," said head of the study Boris Worm, a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.
He added: "Protective measures must be scaled up significantly in order to avoid further depletion and the possible extinction of many sharks species in our lifetime."