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

An electrical vehicle charging station on Fort St. across from the Hope Legion appears to have suffered extensive damage. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Electric vehicle charging station in Hope vandalized

Cables were cut to all four charging stations at a soon-to-be-opened lot on Fort St.

Kastor Hansen gets the right timing on the double-Dutch ropes, cheered on by principal, Bruce Becker. For the past 10 years, Becker has been Silver Creek Elementary’s principal, he is now moving on to become principal at Coquihalla Elementary School. (Barry Stewart/Hope Standard)
Bruce Becker to be Coquihalla Elementary’s new principal, leaving role at Silver Creek open

Longtime SD78 educators Monique Gratrix and Peter Flynn are retiring

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:56 a.m., Oct. 29.
TRAFFIC: Westbound Highway 1 crash between Chilliwack and Abbotsford

Left lane is blocked, traffic backed up to No. 3 Road

AdvantageHOPE is working with Boston Pizza to find a franchisee for a Hope location. (Facebook/AdvantageHOPE photo)
Boston Pizza eyeing Hope for new location

With over 395 locations Canada-wide, company is looking to expand to Hope

A woman holds a packet of contraceptive pills. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Chilliwack women’s organization among those lobbying for free contraception

Ann Davis Society says while it’s a women’s issue, all of society would benefit from program

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Most Read