Approximately 100 million sharks are killed annually, tens of millions of them are killed for food consumption. The IUCN Red List includes critically endangered species, endangered species, vulnerable species, near-threatened species, least concern species, and data deficient species of sharks. In 2019, professor Nicholas Dulvy, Sharks Specialist Group Co-Chair based at Simon Fraser University, said that species of shortfin mako shark is recognized as an endangered species according to the IUCN Red List, and the decline in the Atlantic Ocean estimates 60% for the last 75 years.
The major threat for the sharks' population is fishing, which also includes bycatch. Sharks are caught for the shark finning process, after which fins are put on the market for decoration or shark fin soup. Catching the aquatic species of animals causes extreme stress, but shark finning is an extremely cruel practice. Shark finning is the process of fin removal, after which sharks are released back to the sea/ocean. Once released back to the waters without fins, sharks remain alive, but they are not able to swim. As a result, they sink to the bottom of the ocean and are eaten by other aquatic animals or die from suffocation.
When it comes to the legal protection of sharks, monitoring their population is challenging because sharks are the animals that inhabit international waters or high seas, the territory that does not belong to any jurisdiction, although fishing is regulated by a few international conventions. For example, UNCLOS contains the provisions regarding regulation in high seas and establishes general duties to “protect and preserve the marine environment in the maritime zones and high seas areas.” UNCLOS also sets out the requirement for all States to exercise a “‘total allowable’ catch based upon an established ‘maximum sustainable yield’ in achieving ‘optimum utilization’ of marine living resources.
Sharks are migratory species of animals, thus they are covered by the scope of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and CITES. Sharks are protected by the animal protection acts in some countries of the world, such as Australia, New Zealand, some states of the United States have regulations with regard to the trade of shark fins, etc. The Marshall Islands and Honduras established marine protected areas. Palau and Madagascar created shark sanctuaries.