Sharks and Rays
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Sharks are iconic in the cultures, beliefs and traditions of Pacific people. Their sense of identity of place is reinforced through totems. From Kiribati, Solomon Islands to Fiji and across the Pacific, shark legends and tales make up the rich cultural fabric that is their heritage.
Escalating demand for dried Mobula gill plates for use in Chinese medicine, as well as meat and cartilage, has led to targeting of these vulnerable species through fisheries that are largely unregulated and unmonitored. Significant catch declines have been observed in a number of locations in the Indo-Pacific, Eastern Pacific, and Indian Ocean regions, often despite evidence of increased fishing effort. Population declines are likely occurring in other locations, but have gone unnoticed.