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The world’s fastest shark is threatened with extinction, 17 other species have almost become extinct, conservationists say

The world’s fastest shark — mako shark — is now an endangered species, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
(Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation)

The world’s fastest shark is now an endangered species, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The mako shark is one of the 58 total species of sharks and rays that have had their Red List Assessment updated by the organization Shark Specialist Group (SSG), according to a statement from the organization released Thursday.

Seventeen of these species are marked as threatened with extinction.

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Professor Nicholas Dulvy, co-chair of the SSG, based at the Simon Fraser University, said that because sharks grow slowly and are not protected from overfishing, they tend to be the most endangered, so that the ESG findings is not per se unexpected.

“Of particular interest is the fast and iconic shortfin mako shark, which we have assessed as threatened on the basis of serious exhaustion from all over the world, including a 60 percent drop in the Atlantic ocean about 75 years,” Dulvy said in the statement.

The longfin mako was also listed as threatened.

The flesh and the finned makos are valuable in many countries, according to the release, but there are no international catch quotas for sharks.

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The updated assessment of the 58 species by the IUCN was part of a global project to assess population trends, starting with the species in Australia and oceanic species all over the world, the release said.

Many of the Australian species were deemed to be of least concern, however, some of the oceanic species were still at risk, according to Dr. Peter Kyne, the SSG Red List Authority Coordinator, based at Charles Darwin University.

“The nine Australian sharks remain at serious risk are usually deep-water species that is slow growing and therefore ill-equipped to withstand even modest fishing pressure,” Kyne said in the statement.

The sharks and rays, and those of least concern are species that are not usually eaten, or that typically live in the deeper locations, such as the Megamouth Shark, which was deemed to be a healthy population.

The ESG is calling for national and international fishing limits to help the populations of sharks and rays to recover, Sonja Fordham, SSG Deputy Chairman said in the statement.

“The threats to sharks and rays, and further up the mountain and still countries around the world still fall far too short of their preservation obligations, particularly with respect to the fundamental limits to catch them,” Fordham said.

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