Overexploitation Threats Shark Populations

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Tiger shark with school of fish.

Based on Jenna Jambeck’s study in 2015 related to marine pollution, IUU Fishing and the impact of climate change, the oceans in the world are experiencing extreme pressure. No exception in the Indonesian sea area. Various threats to date are still lurking. For example, issues of coastal and marine pollution, overfishing, and climate change. The threat of overfishing and pollution to the sea is caused by the behavior and patterns of irresponsible human consumption in meeting their needs. This is compounded by the agreement of world leaders on marine protection and sustainability policies that are still not optimal. This includes the problem of exploitation in the fisheries sector, especially the exploitation of sharks.

In terms of shark exploitation as a fish resource, Indonesia is one of the largest shark catching countries in the world. This is indicated by data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) or World Food and Agriculture Organization (2000-2008) reported by The Future of Sharks: A Review of Action and Inaction, TRAFFIC International and the Pew Environment Group (2011), that Indonesia is on the list of the 20 largest shark catching countries in the world. Even the total catches of Indonesia is about 13 percent of the total catch of sharks in the world.

Catching sharks is driven by the demand for shark fins from domestic and foreign markets. One of the destinations for shark fin exports are China and Hong Kong. In addition, the price per kilogram of shark fins is also tempting for fishermen. Based on data from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP), one kilogram of shark fin can be sold at a price of Rp750,000 – Rp2,000,000 depending on its size. As a result, there has been a decline in the population of several types of sharks in Indonesia, including those that have been protected fully and limitedly. . The government has made efforts to manage shark resources by issuing several ministerial regulations (Permen).

Indeed, not all sharks are protected. But there are also those who have experienced a decline in population in nature. In practice, the sharks that are caught are only part of the fins and then returned to the sea in a life without fins. The sharks then die slowly. The practice is increasingly rife so as to invite criticism from marine activists, both experts and organizations who care about sharks.

Fins and shark meat export data in Indonesia

From FAO statistical data (2013), information was obtained that from 2004 to 2011 Indonesia had captured 324,000 tons of various types of sharks. KKP explained that in 2011, the capture of various types of sharks reached 50,000 tons. It was further explained that 48 percent of the capture of various types of sharks consisted of catching sharks lions (requiem sharks) and monkey sharks (thresher sharks) by 36 percent, dogfish sharks by 8 percent, hammerhead sharks 7 percent, and mackerel sharks by 1 percent.

While BPS data (2014) shows shark fin exports from Indonesia reached 248.7 tons. This figure tends to decrease from 367.3 tons in 2013 and 514.3 tons in 2012. Nevertheless, the trend of shark meat exports increased in 2014 which reached 2,280.2 tons from 1,954.5 tons in 2013 and 1,764.6 tons in 2012 The export value of shark fins from 2013 to 2015 alone reached USD 2,890,676 or the equivalent of approximately Rp38,445,990,800.

Sharks sustainability plays an important role in life

Sharks are considered Apex Predators or top predators in the food chain. Sharks function as balancing marine ecosystems. The term “doctor of the ocean” even appears, because as the highest predator, sharks will prey on fish that are sick and old so that the health of the marine ecosystem is maintained. The balance of the marine ecosystem is very much needed by Indonesia, which has a total sea area that reaches 70 percent of the land area. With such a large ocean area, the lives of Indonesian people, especially those living on the coast, are highly dependent on marine resources.

This paper has gained important momentum, because July 14 is a World Sharks Awareness Day or World Sharks Awareness Day. This warning is held so that all the world community aware and know how important the role of sharks in maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem. With a healthy and balanced shark population, marine health continues to be maintained. Thus, marine resources can continue to be enjoyed and utilized by the next generation.

Don’t be afraid of sharks in the sea, but fear that there are no sharks in the sea! Congratulations to commemorate World Shark Awareness Day.

Editor: Vironica Arnila Wulandani and Leo Wahyudi S.

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