The most accurate assessment to date of the impact of commercial fishing on sharks suggests around 100 million are being killed each year.
The researchers say that this rate of exploitation is far too high, especially for a species which reproduces later in life.
The major factor driving the trade is the ongoing demand for shark fins for soup in Chinese communities.
The report has been published in the Journal Marine Policy.
Researchers admit that establishing the true level of global shark fishing is extremely difficult, as the quality of the data is poor. Many sharks that are caught have their fins removed at sea with the body dumped overboard. These fish are often not included in official reports.
However, the scientists estimate a mortality range of between 63 and 273 million sharks in 2010.
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