Global_Food_SupplySharks are friends, not food, and these friends are helping to end global poverty.

In the ocean, sharks are at the top of the food chain. Although they are widely regarded as ruthless killers, they play a seriously important role under the sea. Sharks help to preserve marine biodiversity and keep several species of fish from overpopulating. Without sharks, the ecosystem would disintegrate.

Sharks contribute to a healthy underwater ecosystem by consuming slow, unhealthy fish, leaving more wholesome and healthy fish not only for other marine life, but also for people to catch and eat. Therefore, it is important that people are more concerned with the decline in shark populations than an unlikely and highly rare shark attack.

Increased shark populations reduce global poverty by providing a healthy and sufficient food supply to the world’s poor.

Unfortunately, shark populations are primarily at risk due to overfishing. Many developing countries rely on fishing as a source of food and income. Because their techniques are outdated, belief-based and usually harmless, developing countries do not put marine biodiversity at risk.

Moderately developed countries, however, show the greatest parallel between the devastation of shark populations and poverty. Countries and economies transitioning from low to moderate development use semi-modern fishing techniques that are inefficient and harmful to the ocean’s ecosystem. Sharks are killed, and thus so are their contributions to human food supply.

Furthermore, these countries usually have unstable governments that have not instated proper regulations and cannot efficiently control fishing practices.

Fortunately, there is a clear solution: conserve the fisheries and save the sharks. Eliminate devastating fishing techniques by making it a focus of government regulation. Educate communities on the importance of sharks in the preservation of a healthy marine ecosystem and the global food supply.

A 40-year-old iconic American film, Jaws, instilled in viewers a great fear of sharks and the complete devastation they can cause. The likelihood of being attacked by a shark, however, is 1 in 3 million. Fear of sharks must be left in the past because now, sharks are swimming in the right direction, and it is towards the end of global poverty.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: Global Citizen, The Conversation
Photo: Flickr