Meaghen McCord cradles a smoothhound shark (Mustelus mustelus). McCord achieved a Masters Degree in Fisheries Science, where she specialized in the stock assessment and fishery management of commercially fished sharks in South Africa. (Submitted photo)

Meaghen McCord cradles a smoothhound shark (Mustelus mustelus). McCord achieved a Masters Degree in Fisheries Science, where she specialized in the stock assessment and fishery management of commercially fished sharks in South Africa. (Submitted photo)

B.C. marine ecologist wants Canada to sink its teeth into shark protection

Gulf Islands scientist says top predator under shocking threat from human behaviour

Parks Canada expert Meaghen McCord says Canada is well-positioned to play a significant role in global efforts to save sharks from extinction.

There are an estimated 73 million to 100 million sharks removed from the ocean every year through fishing, she said.

“It’s a totally shocking number. You can assume that’s pretty unsustainable and that’s not the only threat that sharks face,” said McCord, the Marine Ecologist team lead at Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and founder of the South African Shark Conservancy.

READ: Salmon shark treats scientists to surprising behaviour off Island’s west coast

READ: Vancouver Island surfer watches 12-foot shark circle under his board

She said pollution in the ocean has a huge impact on shark habitat and since sharks are at the top of the food chain, they accumulate even more toxins, which causes issues with successfully carrying offspring to term.

“Combined with fishing extraction numbers, sharks experience huge losses in the environment every year. That’s concerning, right? What we really need to think about is at least 25 per cent of shark and their relatives are threatened,” McCord told the VI Free Daily.

In 2019, Canada was the first G20 nation to ban the import and export of shark fins.

“That was done as a regulatory measure to try decrease the amount of fins that were possibly being obtained through less-than-legal means,” said McCord, adding that the important thing is to encourage the whole utilization of the animal if it is obtained through legal means.

“It’s admirable that the [Canadian] government has put strategies in place to improve conservation, but more action that can take place,” she said.

Depending on the species of shark, McCord recommends a combination of measures and management solutions to protect the animal. A moratorium on shark fishing or much stricter fisheries management is at the top of her list. She also suggests increasing the amount of funding for “less-charismatic” sharks in order to better understand critical habitat and to pair it all with an educational campaign centre around finning and not wasting by product.

“We are a country that can take action. We are a G20 country. We have the luxury of being a fairly wealthy country that can implement measures and restrictions that are meaningful. I think if Canada really wants to lead the way, there is a lot more that can be done,” McCord said.

If governments don’t rally to protect sharks and shark habit soon, McCord foresees a dismal future for the creatures that have been swimming around since dinosaurs roamed the earth.

“We are probably going to responsible for one of the largest extinction of species in human history,” she said.

McCord challenges all Canadians to create and encourage a sense of stewardship for sharks.

“Our inclination is to be afraid of them. But I would really like people to understand how incredible they are as a group of animals and how meaningful they are for ecosystems and ultimately for people,” she said.

There are between 28 to 56 species of sharks and their relatives in Canadian waters. McCord said while there has been a heightened amount of great white activity in Atlantic Canada, the sightings of great whites in the Pacific North remains very low.

“Maybe one of the reasons we don’t see a lot of great whites is because of the presence of killer whales who have been actively predating on white sharks in the coastal waters,” said McCord.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

ConservationGreat White SharksParks Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Pixabay photo)
Emergency repairs underway on Phillips Road in Sooke

Sewage may have entered DeMamiel Creek and Sooke River

Victoria police are seeking public assistance in identifying a suspect and witness of a Dec. 4 sexual assault in Esquimalt. (Black Press Media file photo)
Police seeking suspect, witness of sexual assault of Esquimalt teen

Teen sexually assaulted Dec. 4 after departing number 15 bus

Patrick MacMullan won $28,000 playing Toto. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Greater Victoria man wins $28,000 while watching football

Winning ticket purchased at Colwood convenience store

Staff at Artemis Place Secondary were shocked to find that one of the student-built greenhouses on the campus was stolen overnight on Jan. 11. (Artemis Place Society/Facebook)
Saanich school hopes to catch greenhouse thief red-handed

Student-built greenhouses stolen from Artemis Place Secondary on Jan. 11

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

(Black Press Media file photo)
From arts to environment, nominate your West Shore hero

Nominations for the Goldstream Gazette’s Local Hero awards are open to Jan. 15

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Smaller egg farmers find themselves in a David and Goliath situation when it comes to major producers and chain-grocery store shelf space. (Citizen file)
Vancouver Island egg producer cries foul over ‘Island’ label

Egg farmer frustrated with regulations allowing mainland-laid eggs to be labelled ‘Island’

Most Read