Shark Numbers

Shark numbers dwindle in Atlantic Canadian waters

Climate change, overfishing, accidental catches among reasons say researchers

By Suzanne Lapointe, CBC News Posted: Sep 13, 2016 6:30 AM ATLast Updated: Sep 13, 2016 6:30 AM AT

 Both researchers and fishermen have noticed a decline in shark numbers in the North Atlantic, home to 20 different species.

Researchers are concerned about the declining number of sharks in North Atlantic waters, pointing to a combination of climate change, overfishing and commercial fishing techniques as causes.

Art Gaetan, the owner of Blueshark Charter, a recreational catch-and-release shark fishing operation from near Halifax, said he’s noticed the decline.

“So far this year numbers have been down 75 to 80 per cent,” he said.

“Typically this year we would have 500 to 510 sharks tagged by now and I think to date here, including today we’re at 172 or 174.”

Warren Joyce, a researcher with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said the decline is a worldwide phenomenon.

“I think it’s urgent. Currently, shark populations all over the world are in decline,” said Joyce.

“They’re being fished in international waters, mostly for illegal shark finning … where they remove the fins for delicacies in Asia.”

Joyce said he feels the stakes are high.

“Sharks are the top predators in the marine environment, so if we do remove these animals from that ecosystem, it’s going to have some very drastic effects,” he said.

“It could wipe out some species, or some species could explode or wipe out others. We really don’t know but it could be a big problem if it does happen.”