ecostore Australia Blog

The importance of sharks and the ocean
Posted On October 9th, 2013

 

View of ocean & cliffs near Margaret River, WA.

Normally when most people hear the word shark, a series of emotions generally surface. Some range from fear and dread through to shock and awe depending on the circumstances. In most cases though, it does turn out to unfortunately be the former.

Whilst sharks are a species that certainly deserve our respect, some of the fear we have developed has often been the result misguided media sensationalism and of course, who can forget the legacy that JAWS has left us with? The thing about sharks is that they are an apex predator, meaning they have no natural predators in the ecosystem.  As an apex predator, they are essential for maintaining a balanced ecosystem and preserving biodiversity. Without either of these, every other ecosystem on the planet will be under threat.

The oceans in which sharks and other predatory fish like tuna and swordfish roam provide us with more than 50% of the oxygen we need for survival. Essentially you could think of the ocean as lungs for the earth. Having a healthy and diverse ocean environment is vital for a healthier more vibrant planet. The tiny zooplankton and other marine plant life that live in our oceans convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. This plant life is also a favourite meal for many of the oceans’ varying and spectacular species. Apex predators like the aforementioned sharks, as well as tuna and swordfish eat many of these plant eating species and help to keep the whole system in check. That was up until now….

You see we humble gourmet loving humans have a love affair with the textures and flavours of all kinds of tuna, swordfish, salmon (and other popular species like snapper, deep sea perch), to the point where their stocks are becoming depleted,  so much that they as a species are under threat. That alone is cause for concern. But when you consider their role in our ecosystem, it’s a double whammy.

So how do the sharks fit into this side of the issue? Sharks are also fast becoming one of the most threatened marine species. Thanks to popularity flake (yep, in your fish and chips) and finning which to me is equal in marine terms to the abuses suffered in live animal export, this too is putting tremendous pressure on the health of our oceans, our planet and ultimately, us.

This issue though is starting to gain traction in the community.  Earlier this year we joined forces with the very engaging and passionate team at Sustainable Table who have championed some incredibly brave and worthy causes. Most recently they’ve started educating seafood lovers about how to Switch your Fish by Giving a Fork. Give a Fork is a campaign that we are very proud and excited to sponsor as it goes straight to the very heart of everything we do here at ecostore. We all need to take action and we all have the capacity to make an informed choice. Without action, there cannot be change. And without change we will simply continue to denigrate one of the most precious and vital ecosystems so rich in biodiversity and life itself.

 

Image attribution: Jeremy Vandel/Flickr.com

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