IUCN Red List now names them as “Endangered”
The July 2016 update to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List now classifies the whale shark and winghead shark as “Endangered”.
In the last 75 years, the population of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), the largest fish on earth, has more than halved as they continue to be threatened by fishing and ship propellers.
In India, the Philippines and Taiwan, conservation efforts have succeeded in ending the large-scale fishing of whale sharks. However, they continue to be hunted in other places, including southern China and Oman. Whale sharks also end up as by-catch in nets meant for tuna, as the two species are often found together.
For the winghead shark (Eusphyra blochii), a species of hammerhead shark, unregulated fishing is its undoing. Their unique body shape has made them highly vulnerable to being entangled in fishing hets.
According to the IUCN, it is difficult to determine how many hammerhead sharks still exist in the wild. However, based on recent surveys of the fish markets in Indonesia, there is cause for concern: Out of the approximately 20,000 sharks being sold there, only one winghead shark could be found. It is expected that a similar situation would be found in other Asian countries where coastal fishing activities are intensive and generally unregulated.
Further information: www.iucn.org