"One-Third of World's Sharks, Skates and Rays Face Extinction"

"FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. -- They call it the 'Jaws' effect. Inspired by the 1975 movie about a great white shark that terrorized a tourist town, waves of fishermen piled into boats and killed thousands of the ocean predators in shark fishing tournaments.

Although most of the tournaments have shut down or gone to catch-and-release, a commercial shark fishing industry arose in their place to serve the Chinese demand for shark-fin soup, a luxury dish comparable to caviar.

Today, about 345 of 1,044 species of the world's sharks, skates and rays are threatened with extinction, according to an article published recently in the journal Science. The article also raises the possibility that in a few generations, the oceans will lose layers of predators that keep marine ecosystems in balance. "

David Fleshler reports for the Washington Post December 12, 2010.

Monday, December 13, 2010