This is the second in a five-part blog series that features Dusky the Shark. Over the next few days, Dusky will appear in a comic strip that explains why dusky sharks in the northwestern Atlantic are at risk, and what actions he and Oceana are taking to protect his species. Check The Beacon again tomorrow for the next installment of Dusky’s Big Adventure, and click here to see Monday’s installment of Dusky’s Big Adventure.
Today, Dusky the Shark learns why his friends are disappearing: overfishing and government inaction. Dusky sharks in the Atlantic have declined by as much as 85 percent in the past 40 years because of overfishing, meaning fishermen are catching the sharks faster than they can reproduce to keep up. In 2010 alone, more than 3,400 dusky sharks were captured as bycatch in two longline fisheries – fishing lines that can extend for up to 50 miles with thousands of baited hooks – both of which were identified in Oceana’s Wasted Catch report as being among the worst for catching unintended species, like dusky sharks. In fact, as many as 75,000 dusky sharks may have been captured as bycatch in the U.S. since 2000.
The federal government has not effectively taken action to protect this species from bycatch in order to end overfishing. In 2000, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) prohibited fishermen from purposely targeting this species in an attempt to reduce dusky shark fishing mortality, but more than a decade later, dusky sharks remain overfished. This is because they are caught incidentally, as bycatch, and that needs to stop.
Take a look below to learn more about Dusky’s adventures yesterday, and be sure to stop by tomorrow – what Dusky does next may surprise you! Click here to take action to protect dusky sharks.