Conference Paper

Sharks and humans: How to reinforce the partnership

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Non-governmental organisations, regional organisations, governmental bodies, and the private sector (commercial divers, veterinarians, journalists) met to determine the wording of a message to Pacific Island decision-makers and managers. Sharks, pillars of aquatic ecosystem processes Specialists at the meeting first agreed on two key points for their discussions: 1) the disquieting disappearance of sharks and rays in the Pacific, even if this region of the world may appear to have been spared more than others, and 2) the need to look at the decrease in stocks from the perspective of the major role these animals play in marine ecosystems, both coastal and offshore. Not only do sharks contribute to the good health of ecosystems — by promoting biodiversity — but also to ecosystem productivity, a crucial point that could be translated by the statement, " The greater the number of sharks, the more fish there will be to catch! ". The main factor in the decline of shark and ray populations is overfishing. Immediate action must be taken to reduce fishing mortality for sharks by all possible means.

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... Unfortunately, however, reef sharks in the Pacific are under increasing pressure and there are many stories about shark declines that are supported by scientific studies (Nadon et al. 2012; Heupel et al. 2009; Robbins et al. 2006 ). The impacts of coastal and artisanal fishing are increasingly being recognised (Clua and Planes 2015) and threaten the social, ecological and economic values and services that sharks and rays provide. The main pressure facing reef sharks in the Pacific is fishing. ...
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Reef sharks live on coral reefs. This is where they are seen and photographed, and reefs are usually where fishermen catch them. The normal reef shark we see in the Pacific is a sleek grey animal against a background of clear blue water and corals. However, in some places, large numbers of reef sharks can be found in muddy coastal waters, mangroves and seagrass beds (Fig. 1), but it is only recently that research has documented what they are using these habitats for.
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