BONAIRE–The Dutch government is set to officially propose listing the Caribbean Reef Shark (Carcharhinus perezi) on Annex III of the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) during the next conference of the parties for the Cartagena Convention on Aruba in October.
Annex III includes plant and animal species that require additional protection to ensure they are able to adequately recover their populations in the wild.
“This increased protection is critical for ensuring a sustainable future for this iconic species,” the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) said on Thursday.
Caribbean Reef Sharks thrive in the warm, tropics waters of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, with a distribution range that stretches from Florida to Brazil. Growing up to three metres long, this shark is one of the largest apex predators in the reef ecosystem.
“This species is also critical for maintaining balance within the reef ecosystem. Their presence helps regulate the population of smaller prey species, which, in turn, prevents overgrazing on seagrass beds and coral reefs, and eliminates sick or weak fish from the population. This balance is essential for maintaining the health and diversity of the entire coral reef,” said DCNA.
According to the conservation group, Caribbean Reef Sharks have had their numbers reduced between 50% and 79% in the past 29 years.
This die-off has been caused by habitat degradation due to climate change, pollution and overfishing, said DCNA.
“They are often caught incidentally in commercial fisheries, where fishermen are targeting other species, or intentionally, where they are sought after for their fins, used in shark fin soup,” said DCNA. “Coastal development has also had a direct impact on the availability of prey for these sharks.”
Although conservation organisations in the Dutch Caribbean have made strides to protect sharks and their habitats, DCNA says additional efforts are still needed. It argues that more marine protected areas must be created, along with reducing pollution in the ocean, promoting sustainable fisheries and improving enforcement of protective measures.
Bron: Daily Herald