Are Mako Sharks Threatened With Extinction?

The rate at which mako sharks are dying as bycatch in longlines may soon push the species to the point of no return.

Mako Sharks Threatened With Extinction?
The world’s fastest shark, a supreme apex predator and bluewater game fish, the mako shark could soon be effectively extinct unless management actions are taken quickly, claims a shark conservation group.Michael Patrick O’Neill

Overfishing of the shortfin mako shark has left it "exceptionally vulnerable" in the North Atlantic, according to a report in The Guardian. That article says the blame for the dire situation, only recently realized, rests squarely with ICCAT, the international agency responsible for governing tunas and some other large, highly migratory pelagic species in the Atlantic.

A recent review of landings has this year shown mako bycatch to be 50 percent higher than the annual recommended threshold.

Ali Hood, with the UK-based Shark Trust, told The Guardian, "ICCAT has failed to make time to responsibly review and amend a measure for one of the most imperiled species within its purview, and it's simply outrageous."

Although sharks are taken primarily as bycatch by commercial longliners, in many cases the shark bycatch is what keeps fisheries viable, according to Hood, who says that the slow-to-mature mako would take two decades to recover even if ICCAT cut the harvest to zero.