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Introduction

Oceans were once upon a time regarded as the inexhaustible resources that were limitless. However, his idea is changing by the day and these oceans are now under a threat. The oceans are under the danger of being depleted as the growing demands of an increasing population are destroying the marine ecosystems. These activities are also eroding away the ocean and the coastal resources. These effect is not only limited to the oceans only but it goes ahead to spill into endangering the marine life too. Marine life endangerment and overfishing in the oceans has become a big environmental concern over the past couple of years. Among the marine life that is under the danger of extinction are the sharks. About ninety percent of the sharks that reside in the ocean have been pulled out of the water leaving them at the brink of extinction (Sprol, 2007). Sharks have evolved over a period dating to more than 400 million years. They do play a critical role when it comes to the ocean ecosystems. They can be related to land predators such as lions and wolves with consideration of the role that they play in the marine life. They keep the rest of the marine populations in check. By doing so, they play an important role in helping to maintain the balance of life in the sea.

The sad part about this is that currently, mainly because of overfishing in the oceans and great seas, these sharks are among the oceans’ most endangered animals. Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year. These killings take place either intentionally or as they take place as a by-catch. When the sharks fall victims of a by-catch, they are used either in commercial and recreational fisheries. There is a current process that is ongoing to assess the status of European sharks. This is being done by the IUCN, the World Conservation Union. The research has led to the categorization of roughly one third of the species that has been evaluated to be endangered. This is based on whether the sharks are Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable. This happens with a similar risk of another 16 per cent being at risk of suffering from the same tragedy in the near future (Brown, 2010).

Background Information

Environmentalists have been studying this case and their results show that the normal trend that has been going on when it came to the hunting of these sharks cannot continue as the sharks are at a risk of extinction (Jennie M Harrington, 2005). Overfishing has actually become even more destructive than the release of toxic products into the sea which cause pollution. A report issued by the Nature Conservancy stated that “Overfishing and destructive fishing practices are threatening important resources, fishing livelihoods and the economic viability of coastal communities” (The Nature Conservancy, 2008). Hundreds of miles of land and resources that are found beneath oceans and along the coastal lines have been bought. These have overtime been sold and leased for centuries for commercial purposes. The destruction of the homes that house these sharks has also played a major role in the extinction of these sharks. Some of the living factors that contribute to marine problems are natural. These include factors like the destruction of the coral reefs. Global warming can affect the coral which are known for their very sensitivity to temperature. A minimal drop or increase in temperature can kill coral. Once the algae that live inside the coral die, the coral starts to bleach out (The Jason Education Project, 2004). The algae are what give the coral its colour. Death of these coral normally means death of the food on which the sharks feed on.

Generally, sharks grow slowly and thus take a long time to mature. They mature late and they also produce few young ones. Shark populations are thus usually vulnerable to overexploitation. This makes them slow to recover once they are depleted. These sharks are important predators in the sea. Their loss is said to have drastic negative effects on many other species in the sea. Unfortunately misinformation and fear very often hinder the public support.  This becomes a huddle as they are the ones that are required to ensure these sharks receive proper care by being given priority in management and conservation actions. Europe is not short of the resources to limit fishing and help conserve these sharks. Even though there are pressing threats facing sharks, there exist minimal European limits on shark fishing. These also include the quotas, which is routinely set far in excess of actual catches. In 2003, the EU adopted a ban on shark fining. Finning is the wasteful practice of slicing off a shark’s fins. The carcass is then discarded at sea. However, there are a number of open loopholes that simply make the ban all but meaningless. For example, shark fishermen are permitted to get the carcasses and fins differently. Thus this goes ahead to making it all but impossible to tell how many sharks have been processed on board. The same applied to how many were subjected to shark fining (PEW, 2010).

An important data is that, the fin to carcass ratio still tops in the world. This shows that the ways of checking that the quantity of fins is equal to that of carcasses is in line with the ban’s limits. Therefore it is the most lenient in the world. Europe has got some of the worlds largest fishing fleets. This is so while its commanding fisheries officials manipulate the international fishing limitations in many parts of the globe. These poor European shark policies thus pose threats not only to shark populations in European waters but also to those around the world. Careful management of the fisheries could mean that the sharks provide a steady source of food. They can also offer recreation and help keep the oceans in balance (Science and Nature, 2009).

Conservation Methods

The Shark Alliance is dedicated to ensuring that these sharks get the benefit of ocean ecosystems (Shark Alliance, 2010). They ensure that these vulnerable animals survive for the advantages of people that depend on them.There are current sustainability programs in process now for the future of marine conservation. Some of those ideas for this include building up resilience in the already protected areas, marketing, buying land in order to ensure protection, protecting and restoring oceans and the coastlines. There is also the strategy of getting the government and communities involved (The Nature Conservancy, 2008).  Well known environmental organizations team up with the communities and get involved with existing policies. They do this to help enforce the policies and make sure they are being put into action. Being actively involved is one way to ensure the population is doing their part. Another way is coupling with the government and other countries. This is to make sure they are aware of the dangers and the solutions that are available to help. In order to try and meet the demands of both sides, the conservation bodies have come up with a management and sustainment plan. This is a plan by which they feel will benefit both sides. In month one through to month three everyone must get educated. These include people from the local fisheries, the communities, and congress. People need to see real research, numbers and percentages of the species of the sharks that have been declining. The education can be done by holding meetings within the communities, rallies, and letters to congress. This includes the research findings and proposals and of course speaking with the fisheries. Tourists of these sensitive areas need to be educated as well about the conservation methods and campaign. Knowing what areas and species are fragile could help decrease the number of plant and animal species that are endangered by human contact (Save Our Sharks, 2010).

Secondly, guidelines have been made and there is an on going effort to stick to them. Affirmative action is the only way.  In the third and the fourth month, stricter laws have been created. These apply to those who fish illegally, and use illegal fishing techniques. A large percentage of the problem comes from those who fish illegally off other coast. The creation of stricter guidelines for catch and release has helped a lot with the conservation process. There has also been an Increase in the pound limit and maturity of the fish that can be taken. A lot of fish take longer than others to reach adulthood. They then take even longer before they can reproduce. Thus if the young fish are all being taken up by the fishermen, no time is given for them to reproduce. This also applies on visa versa. Majorities of the older mature fish are being taken; leaving the younger non-reproducing fish at sea. Thirdly, there must be a motion to advise people to stay out of those critical areas. Those areas were the species are endangered the most are considered critical areas. If these areas are given time to replenish, then fishing could possibly resume to normal following a period of a few years or more (Sprol, 2007). Another measure that could help is the possibilities of buying back some of the endangered land. Rebuilding the natural habitat could help restore back the number of natural wildlife and plants. Last but not least, the conservationists get the other countries and regions involved in this cause too. This should be done in a sensitive manner but yet assertively. The United Sates are not the only ones that contribute to this problem. A bigger contributor is Japan. It is another big contributor next to the United States. The conservationists also look at some of the other countries policies. They identify what is working for them and their ecosystems, as well as seeing what is not working. Working together and trying compiling a plan that is assorted would benefit the United States as well as other countries. The needs of the resources by these countries may however be greater than those needs of the United States. In such a case, a common ground on policies would be the most efficient.

Plan to deal with this problem will of course not please everyone completely. However, we must all come to common grounds if we want to see progress. Environmentalist will be happy because limits will be placed on the fisherman and fisheries (Jennie M Harrington, 2005). However, the plan will take time to develop and time to take affect. In this time fisherman will be able to continue to fish at the same rate. This will result in a greater number of depletion (Sprol, 2007). Also the bad habits that some fishermen have got will still be in full force. The use of their nets, polluting, and catching and killing useless species of sharks will continue to contribute to the problem. On another downside, many fishermen will feel that their livelihoods are at stake. This will be because of the limits placed on them regarding the areas in which they can fish. Fishermen have been use to a certain lifestyle for so many years. Thus to have it basically cut in half will mean hard times, financially and economically.

There are many other issues and factors other than a decline in the number of the sharks that result from the fisherman’s techniques for catching them. For example, the non-valuable sea life are caught and thrown away. They are labelled as trash. Seabirds and smaller fish are caught in their nets and lose their lives. Because of these animals being killed, the ecosystem is slowly turning to be endangered and unbalanced. For instance, predators are not finding enough food. As a result of this other prey species are exploding. This is because their numbers are not being controlled by the predators that feed on them. Endangered sea turtles are being snared. The trawls can change the structure of the ocean floor. This ocean floor is home to many smaller sea creatures and plant life. This damage can take decades to fix. Fish processing at sea is another problem, which can contribute to pollution. Another problem to add to the list is equipment being discarded at sea. These actions of humans continue to kill the sharks and sea animals as long as they remain in the ocean (Jennie M Harrington, 2005).

The conservation plan will go a long way in helping to rebuild the ecosystem. This will include offering protection to the endangered sharks and animal species and as a result help to increase their numbers. However, it will also have a negative effect on some people. These will include the communities, job resources, and lifestyles of many people involved in the fishing industry as well as consumers. Like everything else, when there is a shortage of a commodity, the price must definitely go up. Fish consumers may expect to see an increase in prices. Fisherman could expect to see a reduction in jobs. Fishermen may also see the need to reduce the number of employees that they carry around because of the fishing industry slowing down. There are the poor coastal communities that rely on these areas as their great fishing areas. If these areas become restricted, these communities will loose their source of income. However, these communities and countries that rely on these resources need to understand that if they do not do something to conserve the marine resources that are there right now as well as their valuable resources, it will not be long before these resources will be no longer be available. They need to see that they may have to sacrifice. They may have to have to downsize just a little in order to grow a lot.  According to the Nature Conservancy, “conserving ocean and coastal ecosystems will improve water quality”. This will look after various marine habitats and protect economies and livelihoods of coastal communities for generations.

Conclusion

The entire world is a contributor to these damaging factors that endanger the sharks together with other marine life and the underwater world they live in. In an effort to fight back, one organization cannot do it alone. It requires the support of the entire community, population and government in order to realize that difference. If the society could be co-operative enough to just change one thing at a time, this will work. For instance, the society could change their way of life with regards to the killings of these sharks. Recycle if you normally do not, and do not litter the rivers and oceans. If one is fishing for fun, he should be aware of his ecological surroundings. He should know what fragile life is around him. Communities can start getting involved too in this conservation process by donating their time or money to these organizations and help conserve. Government agencies can partner up with private organization. With all this efforts combined, together they would make a bigger difference in saving the sharks.

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