Why are sharks important to the ecosystem and economy
Sharks are an ecosystem and economic necessity.
Why sharks are important to the ecosystem?
Sharks play a vital role in the ecosystem as apex predators, maintaining the food chain below them and functioning as an indicator of ocean health. Sharks assist in the removal of the weak and diseased, as well as maintaining the balance with rivals, ensuring species variety.
Predators shift their prey’s spatial habitat, affecting other species’ feeding strategies and diets. Sharks indirectly manage seagrass and coral reef environments through spatial controls and abundance. Coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and commercial fisheries have all suffered as a result of shark extinction. When sharks are removed from the coral reef ecosystem, larger predatory fish such as groupers thrive and prey on the herbivores. With fewer herbivores, macroalgae thrive and coral can no longer compete, transforming the ecosystem into one dominated by algae and jeopardizing the reef system’s existence. In July 2008, Oceana published “Predators as Prey: Why Healthy Oceans Need Sharks,” a paper that demonstrated the importance of shark protection.
Why sharks are important to the economy
The economy is indirectly influenced by sharks’ dominance over species lower in the food chain. The loss of great sharks increased the ray populations below them, according to research conducted in North Carolina. As a result, the rays devoured all of the bay scallops, causing the fishery to shut down. The rays have moved on to other bivalves without scallops to eat.
Many restaurants are removing this American favourite from their menus due to the demise of the quahog, a major ingredient in clam chowder. The absence of scallops and clams shows that shark extinction can harm the economy as well as ecosystems.
Sharks also have an economic impact through ecotourism. A single live reef shark in the Bahamas is worth $250,000 thanks to diving tourism, compared to a one-time value of $50 when caught by a fisherman. In Belize, a single whale shark can bring in $2 million throughout its life.
Humans, like other sharks, pose the greatest threat to zebra sharks. The zebra shark is caught by a variety of inshore fishermen and coveted for its meat, which is sold fresh or salt-dried in markets in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and other parts of the world. Its liver is also processed for vitamins, and its fins are sliced off for use in traditional Chinese delicacy shark fin soup. Although shark finning is prohibited in US waters, fins can nevertheless be purchased and sold from unsustainable foreign fisheries that lack or ineffectively enforce shark finning regulations.
The combination of these practices is reducing zebra shark numbers over most of their area, and the IUCN Red List classifies them as endangered. The species is classified Least Concern in Australia because it has a wide distribution and is not regularly fished.