Archive for Finning
www.bbc.co.uk 11th March 2013
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has made a progressive step towards the conservation of sharks around the world by giving added protection to three endangered species. The convention, currently being held in Bangkok, Thailand, voted by a two-thirds majority to increase the status of the ocean whitetip, three species of hammerhead, and the porbeagle sharks, as well as Manta rays. Despite strong opposition from Japan and China, two countries known for their taste in exotic marine species, a shift in the attitude of South American nations such as Brazil and Colombia helped the motion pass. However, it could still be overturned on appeal on the final day of the convention this week. Although the move stops short of banning the shark fin trade altogether, it does introduce stricter regulations that can result in sanctions on animal products if flouted. Many shark populations have plummeted 90% in the last 100 years largely as a result of overfishing. As many as a 100 million sharks are captured every year.
www.cnn.com 3rd July 2012
The Government Office Administration of the State Council of China has announced its intention to ban shark fins being served at official banquets. Shark fins are usually served in a soup that was originally reserved for the elite during imperial times. With the Chinese economic boom however, demand for the luxury dish has rocketed resulting in widespread and unsustainable shark fishing. Sharks are usually finned while still alive and the rest of the body is discarded. The demand for shark fin soup has been attributed to the increase of endangered shark species across the planet, rising from 15 in 1996 to 181 today. Between 26 and 73 million sharks are killed every year. The move by the Government Office Administration came after a proposal was put forward in the National People’s Congress early last year. Although it may take as long as three years to implement, the ban would ‘help cut the cost of sometimes lavish banquets held for state functions.’ Several companies have also made moves to ban the product in China including the Peninsula Hotel and Shangri-la Hotels chains. Swissotel in Beijing has already stopped.
www.bbc.co.uk 3rd October 2011
The republic of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific has created the world’s largest shark sanctuary, covering around 2 million square kilometres (772,000 square miles) of ocean. The sanctuary, roughly the equivalent area of Mexico or Saudi Arabia, is three times the size of the former largest sanctuary created by Palau two years ago. The move by the Marshall government reflects the importance of diving tourism on the islands’ economy. ”In passing this [shark protection] bill, there is no greater statement we can make about the importance of sharks to our culture, environment and economy,” said Senator Tony deBrum, who co-sponsored the bill. New laws now dictate that the commercial fishing of sharks is banned, as is the trade in any shark products. Certain types of fishing gear will be banned and violators of these laws will face fines of up to £200,000. Shark fishing has been on the rise in recent years due to high demand in China and other Asian countries for shark fins. Around 73 million are killed annually resulting in a third of ocean-going sharks being out on the Red List of Threatened Species. The Marshall Island government worked closely with the US-based Pew Environmental Group to create the sanctuary.
www.latimes.com 4th August 2011
Oregon has joined Hawai’i and Washington to become the third state to pass legislation against the sale, trade, and possession of shark fins. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signed bill HB 2838 on Thursday (4th August) making California the last of the mainland Pacific coast states not to have similar legislation (it is currently being held up in the state Senate). President Obama has also made steps to tighten up a ban on shark finning in the US by signing federal legislation earlier this year. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in Chinese communities and is viewed as a status symbol served particularly for weddings and banquets. Defenders of the practice claim it is a cultural tradition and banning it is tantamount to an “attack on Asian culture.” Many sharks have their fins removed while still alive and are then thrown back into the ocean to die a slow and painful death. Marine experts claim shark finning has led to the global decline in shark populations (around 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins and meat).
The Agriculture Minister of the Bahamas Larry Cartwright has approved this Tuesday a ban on the sale, import and export of shark products. The move sees the island chain join other countries such as Honduras, the Maldives, and Palau in banning shark fishing. Roughly 73 million sharks are killed annually, mostly to supply the heavy demand from China where sharks’ fins are used in traditional soups. The ban in the Bahamas, as well as the increase in shark-fishing fines from $3,000 to $5,000, will effectively make its 243,000 square mile territorial waters a safe haven for the ancient group of species. Although long-line fishing has been banned in the country since 1993, shark-fishing was still legal until conservationists launched a campaign in response to a local company announcing its intentions to export shark meat to Hong Kong. Tourism brings in $80 million to the Bahamas annually and each reef shark, according to the Pew Environmental Group, is worth about $250,000. This is compared to the $10,800 market value of a dead shark.
www.nytimes.com 2nd May 2011
A recent study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science has come up with a statistic that should encourage locals to turn their backs on shark finning altogether. Palau Island in the Pacific Ocean was made a shark sanctuary in 2009 and a large amount of the country’s tourism is orientated towards divers who want to see the protected species. Using a straight forward mathematical equation, the AIMS then worked out the economic value of the sharks to the national economy: ‘diver tourism contributes about 39 percent of the country’s gross domestic product of $218 million, and 21 percent of divers chose their vacation there specifically to see the sharks, meaning that tourism to view sharks contributes about 8 percent of G.D.P., the study said. The researchers concluded that the roughly 100 sharks that inhabit the prime dive sites were each worth $179,000 annually to the island nation’s tourism industry, and that each shark had a lifetime value of $1.9 million.’ This is compared to the $10,800 a shark is worth if it is killed for its fins and meat. Palau is the world’s first shark sanctuary but there was a point where it may have been created at all. The Palau government were thinking of creating a shark finning factory instead but later reconsidered. Their change of mind now brings in $1.2 million for local residents annually and $1.5 million for the government. Global political-will has been lacking in creating marine conservation zones with only around 1% of the world’s oceans protected.
The banning of shark finning off the coast of California in December last year has been called ‘largely symbolic’ as most of the fins sold in the state come from outside its territorial waters. As a result, two Californian assemblymen Paul Fong (Cupertino District) and Jared Huffman (San Rafael District) have proposed a new law (AB 376) that would see the complete ban of the sale and distribution of shark fins within the State of California. Fong and Huffman have claimed public support for their bill has been overwhelming but State Senator Leland Yee has branded it “an attack in Asian culture”. Shark fin soup has been a delicacy in manly Chinese culture for millennia and it is because of this that Senator Yee believes that the law discriminates against Chinese cuisine. Despite this, he insists that he is concerned about the welfare of sharks.
LMV: if approved, the California ban on shark fins would reduce the overall global demand and have a significant effect on the industry, which sees the killing of between 26 and 73 million sharks a year. With many shark populations on the verge of collapse, shark fin prices have soared to US$500 a pound ($50 a head for the soup). Something needs to be done and the actions of assemblymen Fong and Huffman are trying to do it. It is non-sensical to reject an outright ban on the grounds that one item on the menu of a Chinese restaurant would be removed. As Senator Yee argues, there are sustainable shark finneries around the world but they are very much in the minority and their fins make up a tiny portion of the market. The practice is barbaric and commonly sees the sharks finned while still alive. California is taking an important step. Is it really worth turning down this landmark law that will help protect numerous species in favour of ‘tradition’.
LMV warning, violent and bloody scenes.
Quoted from source:
‘Lesley Rochat spent 2 years researching the subject and securing an opportunity to film on a longline vessel. Lesley goes out on a limb, single-handedly, to investigate both legal shark longlining and illegal shark finning off the coast of South Africa. Armed with her camera and the passion to make a difference, she boarded a shark longline vessel for two days and captured disturbing, high quality footage of mass shark slaughter. In good journalistic style she uncovers that the threat to shark populations in South Africa lies with the local governments inadequate management and compliance of this resource. Though South Africa is a small contributor to the world slaughter of over 100 million sharks each year, Sharks in Deep Trouble is indicative of the global plight of sharks. General inertia of governments worldwide in taking responsibility for their natural resources is driving many fish species, including many shark species to extinction. The documentary was broadcast on 50/50 in South Africa to over 1 million people. It contains footage rarely seen which shocked viewers, bringing many to tears.’