Many of you realize that the environment around us is fragile and if we wish to have conserve its strength and beauty for our future generations, then we need to work together – but many do not realize that for our well known and loved marine ecosystem here in Belize, the shark population is key to its longevity.
Rachel Graham, the Shark Expert here in Belize, came to Caye Caulker yesterday to inform us of the work that she is doing with the assistance of Belize Dive Services, on Sharks here in Northern Belize. Rachel’s work prior to this was done with the Whale Sharks down in the South of Belize and now that their populations are not high risk, she has turned her attention to both sharks and their lesser known cousins the rays.
Rachel told us ‘The world is finally learning that many populations of sharks and rays are in global decline as a result of excessive fishing pressure. With tens of millions of sharks and an unknown quantity of rays captured yearly as by catch to the tuna and swordfish fisheries and as targeted catch to supply the voracious demands of the Asian fin soup market and the Lenten season’s requirement for white meat.’
Sharks, in their role as apex predators, play a vital role in healthy and functional marine ecosystems and commercial fish stocks. However the fact that they have few offspring, live long lives and mature often in their teens means that as a species they are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and therefore a great risk of being fished out!!!
With no time like the present, we are answering her call for attention and in our own small way, we intend to assist and back her endeavors in order to protect our reef that we so love!!
Next week I will write about how Rachel and the Belize Shark Project Team hope to prevent the shark population of Belize being diminished but, if you cannot wait until then, please feel free to find further information on www.belizesharkproject.org!