Sharks 'functionally extinct' at many coral reefs around the world - study

A first-of-its-kind global study has found that at many of the world's coral reefs, sharks are "functionally extinct".

Thousands of hours of footage was analysed across 371 reefs in 58 countries.

The study has squarely put the partial extinction down to overfishing and it comes as figures released to Newshub show millions of kilograms of shark is fished in New Zealand every year.

"In nearly 20 percent of the reefs we visited, we didn't see any sharks at all," Massey University senior lecturer Adam Smith said. "They've been basically exterminated." 

Fifteen-thousand hours of footage was captured and analysed worldwide over four years.

Outside of the protected Kermadec Islands, shark populations are declining. Figures released to Newshub under the Official Information Act show more than eight million kilograms of shark is caught by commercial fishers in New Zealand's waters every year.

Less than one percent of those waters are protected by marine sanctuaries. Smith said we urgently need more.

"That's the most effective intervention we have to protect shark populations - to stop people from fishing them," he said.

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