Tunisia, 2nd largest country that fishes shark in Mediterranean
14/07/2019 14:22, TUNIS/Tunisia

(TAP) -Tunisia has been ranked as the second largest country that fishes shark in the Mediterranean after Libya, reveals a report published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on the occasion of World Shark Day, celebrated on July 14 each year.

Tunisia (4,161 tonnes) and Libya (4,260 tonnes) catch three times more than Italy (1,347 tonnes) and Egypt (1,141 tonnes), adds the organisation in its report entitled "Sharks in Crisis: A Call to Action for the Mediterranean".

More than half of the species of sharks and sea rays are threatened in the Mediterranean region, says the same source, pointing out that nearly a third is fished at a critical level of extinction.

He pointed out that no less than 60 species have been recorded in trawls. In some areas, sharks and rays account for more than a third of the total longline catch. Huge quantities of sharks are caught by drift nets and illegal nets.

The organisation also mentioned other threats to Mediterranean sharks. Indeed, in addition to fishing, sharks are confronted with ingesting or strangling plastic pieces.

They are also the target of illegal trade, notes the same source, explaining that DNA analyses have shown that many consumers who think they are eating Mediterranean swordfish find shark meat on their food.

According to WWF, this poses risks to human health due to mercury concentrations that far exceed the legal safety limits set for certain shark species.

In this report, the organisation called on fishermen and fisheries managers to avoid fishing in critical habitats such as nurseries and to use adapted gear to eliminate by-catches.

It also stressed the need to improve knowledge of shark populations and commercialised species in order to strengthen conservation efforts and ensure transparency and legality in the fishing sector.

"Sharks could disappear from the Mediterranean. Their rapid decline is the most serious indicator of poor sea health and irresponsible fishing practices. All Mediterranean countries are responsible. Sharks have been part of our sea and culture for thousands of years. We must act quickly to ensure their survival in the future," says Giuseppe Di Carlo, WWF director, quoted in a WWF statement.

Sharks are particularly vulnerable animals. They are struggling to recover from the decline of their population. They tend to grow slowly, mature late and produce few young after long periods of gestation.

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