The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is a week-long series of feature television programs dedicated to sharks. Shark week was intended to raise awareness and build public knowledge for sharks. Discovery’s program is now broadcast in over 72 countries. People love Shark Week; in 2012, the Discovery Channel captured the attention of 21.4 million viewers. This year’s Shark week from August 4th to August 10th was the most-watched Shark week in the event’s 26 year history.
Shark week is popular as well in Costa Rica, where sheer quantities of sharks swim in their waters. It brings an opportunity to spread awareness about the impact of various species in Costa Rica. Shark fishing, the shark fin poaching trade, and the shark cartilage industry in Costa Rica all pose a danger to sharks and their marine ecosystems. In Costa Rica, unlike in Honduras and the Bahamas, shark fishing is allowed. Those countries banned shark fishing by establishing sanctuaries after being warned by conservationists that their shark populations were threatened by overfishing. It is estimated that about 100 million sharks are killed each year, and the sad fact is that many are simply killed rather than caught for their meat and skin.
Sharks, in general, take longer than other species to reach maturity. Last year, the MarViva Foundation called on the Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Costa Rica to demand proper labeling of shark products at fish shops and restaurants, as well as greater enforcement of shark fishing crews to ensure that fisherman don’t hunt juveniles. Sharks are often by catch victims that get caught in the massive shrimp trawling nets along with other species. Costa Rica recently banned shrimp trawling to help avoid this problem. The shark finning trade has also been banned during the administration of President Laura Chinchilla.
At GR8-White, we hope shark week can raise more awareness for the benefits of shark conservation -as well as the potential dangers of their extinction.