SOS does not support the fishing of sharks (commercially or recreationally/for sport or consumption), due to the stress inflicted during capture  and the unprecedented decline of most commercially targeted shark species. However, we recognise that some species of sharks may be more resilient to fishing pressure than others and so decisions regarding the appropriateness of such activities need to be continually reviewed at a species-specific level.
Sharks reproduce very slowly, so even modest amounts of fishing can negatively impact local populations. On average, current known shark exploitation rates range between 6.4% and 7.9% of sharks killed per year. This exceeds the average sustainable exploitation rate for many shark populations, estimated from life history information to be approximately 4.9% per year, and explains the ongoing decline of most populations for which data exist. The consequences of these unsustainable catch and mortality rates for marine ecosystems could be substantial. Global total shark mortality, therefore, needs to be reduced drastically or stopped all together in order to rebuild depleted populations and restore functional apex predators to marine ecosystems.
Due to elevated levels of mercury in shark meat and the linked potential health risks associated with consuming shark meat, we actively encourage people to avoid eating sharks and/or using any shark related products. Mercury contamination has been found in many different types of seafood from sharks to oysters, but sharks are amongst the highest affected. Women consuming shark meat while pregnant increase their risk of birth defects and neurological impairment. Studies have also demonstrated that mercury consumption may be directly related to infertility and miscarriage.
Our view on this issue is based on the most current scientific literature, where available. However, we recognise that our knowledge of the natural world is ever changing and new discoveries are being made every day. If you believe our position on this issues may warrant a review, based on new scientific evidence, please send us your comments and any related literature and we will endeavour to investigate and amend our position where appropriate.