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

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Black Crow Cannabis is just one of Vernon's many pot shops now open in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Kelowna has highest cannabis fees in Okanagan

Vernon’s 14 stores pay second highest business licence fees

(Photo: pixabay.com)
Morning Start: More human twins are being born now than ever before

Your morning start for Friday, April 16, 2021

Twin sisters Kyla, left, and Jordyn Bear have accepted scholarships to play at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York for this upcoming fall. The 17-year-olds dream of playing together for Canada in the Olympics one day. (Jesse Johnston/CP photo)
Lake Country twins inspire Indigenous hockey players

Grade 12 George Elliot Secondary students Kyla and Jordyn Bear earn hockey scholarships at NCAA Division 1 school

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16 morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Many residents had made complaints about the camp before it was torn down

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

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

Ford F-350s have been targeted in the North Okanagan by auto thieves since February 2021, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP data shows. (Gene J. Puskar - The Canadian Press/AP file)
Auto thieves target older Ford F-350s in Vernon: RCMP

Vernon Mounties remind all motorists no vehicle is immune to auto crime

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Most Read