Scott Tucker, whom I can only describe as the Mr. Rogers (minus the cool puppets like King Friday) of public access wildlife television, was recently interviewed on Connecticut’s WTNH8 about his “Last Blue Shark” program and shark conservation, in general.
Tucker addresses the shark fin industry and the impact that is having on global shark populations. Tucker suggests ways that the audience can contribute to shark conservation efforts. Unfortunately, while discussing the shark fin industry, Tucker not only references the “100 million” magic number but also goes on to claim that 100 million is a conservative estimate and that “they believe it is even more.” While I certainly support Tucker’s good intentions, I believe that using “statistics” that have no scientific research behind them is potentially more harmful to shark conservation efforts than helpful. Within the past few months, the unsubstantiated claim of “100 million shark killed annually” has been used as a platform to discredit shark conservation efforts. In order for conservation efforts to be taken seriously, those promoting these efforts would be better served using the estimate of 26 million to 73 million sharks killed commercially each year, which is backed up by research (Clarke et al. 2006)
In addition to discussing shark finning and promoting conservation awareness, Tucker also plugs his latest episode of Expedition New England, “Last Blue Shark.” Expedition New England is a public access wildlife show which airs throughout Connecticut, as well as a few other localities (including Melbourne, Australia, believe it or not).