By Audrey Kemp | Junior Reporter

July 14, 2022 | 3 min read

For Shark Awareness Day today, Greenpeace has released ‘The Lonely Shark,’ an animated short film illustrating its latest report, which lifts the net on the overfishing of sharks in the North Atlantic.

Every day, about 745 miles of fishing line and nearly 28,000 fishing hooks infiltrate the North Atlantic, ready to deplete the region’s baby shark nurseries.

That’s one of the findings of “Hooked on Sharks,” a report conducted by Greenpeace UK and Greenpeace Spain released in tandem with "Hooked on Sharks." The report, conducted by Greenpeace UK and Greenpeace Spain, exposes how EU fishing fleets from Spain and Portugal have consistently fished in baby shark nursery grounds in the North Atlantic.

The global organization created the The Lonely Shark to galvanize global governments to protect the largest predatory fish on Earth. The CGI film opens with two anthropomorphized sharks, presumably friends, who pass a sunken and dilapidated fishing ship. Suddenly, another ship materializes at the surface, this time with fishing lines and hooks dangling downwards. Blood clouds the waters. Before one shark knows it, their friend becomes one of several other slain sharks. The harrowing scene is magnified by Radiohead’s haunting and emotive single “Bloom,” which remains at the fore of the video throughout. The film closes with a devastating statistic: that the global shark population has plummeted over 70% in the last half-century.

According to a statement from Greenpeace UK's head of oceans Will McCallum, Greenpeace seeks to see the signing of “30x30,” a global ocean treaty that pledges to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, which would restore global shark populations.

From pet food to makeup, the global demand for shark products continues to grow, exceeding $1bn annually. Meanwhile, the North Atlantic’s longline fishery, which originally targeted swordfish, has since pivoted to rely on shark bycatch – or animals that are unintentionally caught during the process of fishing for other species – to remain profitable, per Greenpeace's report. Spanish and Portuguese governments in particular have resisted attempts to improve the practices of this fishery, which has put shark several species at risk, including the now-endangered North Atlantic shortfin mako shark.

“While the EU and its members claim to be champions of ocean protection, their fishing fleets are deliberately fishing in baby shark breeding grounds in the North Atlantic using longlines, a hugely destructive fishing technique,” McCallum said in a statement. “Fishing nations like Spain and Portugal are actively working to undermine marine protection measures for the area. It’s shocking hypocrisy, which is causing environmental harm on a vast scale.”

In August, global governments will meet to finalize “30x30,” a new global ocean treaty that aims to devote 30% of our planet’s oceans to marine life sanctuaries by 2030. If global governments don’t finalize said treaty this year, we will likely be past the point of no return, argues Greenpeace’s latest campaign. Check out the full report here.

The news comes after members of Greenpeace France stormed the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity to protest fossil fuel advertising.

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