Speed Reads

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Sharks are now internationally protected — which is a terrifying reminder that there are sharks everywhere

In a terrifying reminder that there are sharks everywhere, the international community agreed Tuesday to protect sharks no matter where they might swim, New Scientist reports. A total of 126 countries signed the legislation at the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, which gave protected status to a number of misunderstood, toothy sea monsters, including the gentle whale sharks and the over-fished blue sharks.

Of the blue sharks, Matt Collis of the International Fund for Animal Welfare explained that "they're the most highly fished sharks in the world, with 20 million caught around the world each year, but they're also the most migratory, so they're vulnerable to fisheries everywhere. This puts pressure on countries to commit to international protection." The new protections will allow countries to work in conjunction on regulating or banning certain shark fishing and finning practices.

It's a rare bit of good news for the shark community. The Hong Kong Standard reported Wednesday that of the more than 70 species of shark fin being sold in Hong Kong today, a third are from endangered sharks, including the great hammerhead and broadfin. The shortfin mako shark is also in danger, Popular Science reports: "We definitely need to be concerned, and need to definitely start thinking about putting catch limits on the species which haven't existed in this part of the world before," said ecologist Michael Byrne, who is working in the North Atlantic.