iScience, Volume 23, 26 June 2020,
Sharks are a taxon of significant conservation concern and associated public interest. The scientific community largely supports management policies focusing on sustainable fisheries exploitation of sharks, but many concerned members of the public and some environmental advocates believe that sustainable shark fisheries cannot and do not exist and therefore support total bans on all shark fisheries and/or trade in shark products. The belief that sustainable shark fisheries cannot and do not exist persists despite scientific evidence showing that they can and do, and are important to livelihoods. Additionally, many concerned members of the public are only aware of one threat to sharks and are unaware of other threats—or of most available policy solutions. Here we assess whether the popular press plays a role in spreading misinformation and misunderstanding about these issues via the agenda-setting, priming, and cultivation roles of the media, with the goal of better understanding the causes and consequences of public confusion.