Shark Numbers Plummet as Fishing Continues in Senegal

Between 2000 and 2008, an estimated one out of every 100 sharks caught around the globe was killed off the coast of Senegal. While estimates of the annual number of sharks caught worldwide vary widely (ranging from 10 to 100 million), what is known is that Senegal is the main African exporter of shark products. In 2000 alone, Senegal exported 37 metric tons of shark fins. However, the West African shark fin trade, which began in the 1970s and exploded in the 1990s, began to plummet in 2003—not for lack of effort but for lack of sharks. Nevertheless, thousands of Senegalese fishermen still depend on the unsustainable trade. One man who had been fishing for 30 years acknowledged the severe drop but told a reporter, “‘We are obliged to catch small sharks. We know it’s not good but if one person doesn't, the next will.’”