300 dead thresher sharks were found 150 miles from the sea in the Mexican state of Michoacán. The shark carcasses were dumped on the side of the road in Yurécuaro, with the remains of the shark gutted and their fins removed.
According to a statement from the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA), the sharks had been legally fished in the states of Sonora and Sinaloa. The frozen thresher sharks were being taken by truck to Mexico City when cartel thieves likely hijacked the truck and dumped its cargo.
The fishing of thresher sharks is legal in Mexico although the IUCN Red List categorizes the species of thresher as Vulnerable due a declining population. Threshers are in high demand in Asia to be used in shark fin soup as well as having their hides turned into leather. The thresher is always one of the most lucrative sharks to fish as their long tails can reach the length of their own body.
More attention has been brought to the killing of sharks as the world population of sharks continues to shrink due to fishing and bycatch. This has led many conservation organizations urging governments in the establishing stricter regulations on shark fishing.
Despite the value that some countries find in the dead threshers, the Pew Charitable Trust argues that these animals are worth much more alive. Diving site Monad Shoal, located off Malapascua Island in the Philippines, is one of the only places in the world where thresher sharks are seen daily, reported the BBC in 2012. This has driven tourism to the area and Pew explains that travel dollars helped the island recover after the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan.
In another a study revealed in 2012, shark diving brought in $18 million in revenue to the Pacific island nation of Palau in one year. The study concluded, “Shark diving provides an attractive economic alternative to shark fishing, with distribution of revenues benefiting several sectors of the economy, stimulating the development and generating high revenues to the government, while ensuring the ecological sustainability of shark populations.”
In response, the government deemed the area’s waters a “shark sanctuary,” banning commercial fishing.
As the thresher and other shark species faces more uncertainty, we need Mexico and other governments to put restrictions on shark fishing.