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

The paraglider pilot, while attempting to free himself, dropped 30 feet and sustained serious injuries as Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue members worked quickly to extract him from the trees. They were able to get him to a waiting ambulance at the end of a nearby forest service road. (Contributed Photo/Dave Harder)
Lower Mainland Search and Rescue saves paraglider in treetop rescue

Pilot tried to self-rescue but sustained serious injuries in a 30-foot fall

An original piece of artwork by Rosie Laponder, was stolen along with various art supplies from Julie Ann’s Art and Custom Framing in Chilliwack on Nov. 28, 2020. (Submitted image)
Thieves steal original artwork, art supplies from Chilliwack store

‘It kind of makes you sick to your stomach,’ says store manager

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
Violent crime spree involving knife ends in arrest in Chilliwack

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Hope Secondary School. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Update: Fourth COVID-19 exposure at Hope Secondary School confirmed

Hope high school the only school in Fraser Cascade to experience multiple exposures

Abbotsford's Jada Klein
Abbotsford’s Jada Klein releases debut EP

Fresh off FVMA win, Robert Bateman grad’s ‘Always, Forever’ album arrives online

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
32 family members respond to Abbotsford care home’s plea for staffing help during COVID-19 outbreak

Menno Home asks for relief workers for food service, laundry and housekeeping

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Most Read