Global Fin Print’s Dr. Demian Chapman, Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, shared his thoughts on how the United States and the Bahamas are setting new world standards for shark conservation.
Chapman states that shark populations benefit the coastal communities that live beside them. Research shows that there is evidence that if sharks weren’t there some animals they eat would increase in number or change their behavior, with those effects rippling throughout the food chain. Sharks also help the environment by just going number two. By excreting feces, they enrich coral reefs and possibly other habitats with vital nutrients.
Along with the U.S., the Bahamas have been protecting their dive sites by prohibiting the types of fishing gear used by commercial fishermen to catch sharks in large quantities. In 2011, the government formalized full protection for all sharks, and today the Bahamas remain a top destination for tourists interested is seeing healthy shark populations.
Over the last eight years, Chapman has been taking trips to the Bahamas to study and record sharks with his research team, Global FinPrint. Their team has visited more than 20 islands in the Bahamas looking for sharks, and has captured more than 700 hours of underwater video estimating how many common sharks there are compared to other nations where shark fishing is allowed. They found out that sharks are thriving in the Bahamas, filming an average of one shark every 45 minutes and capturing 10 different species.
For those countries with less resources or expertise on shark conservation, Chapman suggests to use a hybrid approach, such as setting areas where fishing for sharks are not permitted or prohibiting certain fishing gear. These simple steps can lead to an enormous difference in the shark’s habitat and coastal environment in general.
Read his full opinion piece on The Hill.