Many of the arguments used by China, Japan, Russia and several North African countries to oppose the measure were expected to be recycled by delegates later this week when proposals to tightening regulations on the shark trade are considered.
China and Russia argued that shark populations aren’t suffering. Japan insisted that current measures in place are more than adequate. Developing countries like Libya and Morocco complained that any effort to protect sharks would damage the economies of poor fishing nations and burden them with expensive enforcement requirements.
The Chinese delegation said there was no scientific evidence that the shark’s survival is threatened and CITES was not the right forum to handle the issue. The Chinese would prefer to leave regulation to existing tools like the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and regional bodies which conservationists argue have failed to crackdown on illegal fishing and even uphold their own modest quotas.
There’s a lot of out-of-date information circulating. Consider these points first.
1. Fishermen prefer to catch marlin, swordfish, tuna – high value products.
2. Sharks take the baits intended for tuna, marlin, on lines many kilometers long.
3. Sharks, unable to swim, then drown. Unable to swim, they drown, dead in 95% of cases.
4. So, what to do with the dead sharks? Throw them away? Process them for $2-3 kilo?
5. Many (or most) countries, by law, now make fishermen bring whole sharks home, fins attached.
6. Shark meat is processed into fake fish products, crab sticks, fish fingers etc.
7. Shark fins are just a bonus, (as compared with a large tuna) crazy to wast them.
8. A new bait is being trialed, a bait that tuna take yet is distasteful to sharks. It’s expensive.
9. Fishermen see many sharks offshore and sincerely believe there is no detrimental shortage.
10. There is a decline in all other fin fish, world-wide this is accelerating.
11. Shark diving companies would have you believe all of the above shark info is untrue.
12. Same applies to self-promoting marine ‘experts’. Easy to be interviewed speaking ‘doom and gloom’ info.
13. Bottom line at Taipei Shark Conference 2002 “We (scientists) should speak more often with fishermen to help with our research.
A world decline in fin fish is resulting in small shark becoming acceptable as cheaper substitute species. Fins must not be removed at sea – a law for several years in most but not all countries.
WildAid organized the International Shark Conference in Taipei which focused on shark fining and brought about changes in fisheries laws. The published magazine for the conference is now available on line “The End of the Line”.
The picture of a recently fined shark was an error in that a blunt knife has been used and only the dorsal fin removed. Otherwise there is some excellent research material here.