Monday, September 27, 2010

Bahamian sharks are facing mortal enemies

The archipelago of the Bahamas is one of the last paradises for sharks. Not any longer if a reckless seafood company will have it their way.

Who wants to imagine she might be killed for her fins?....
Photo: Wolfgang Leander (Bahamas, 2009)
Click to enlarge

Read this:

Shark finning article sparks outcry from conservationists

Published On:Friday, September 10, 2010


Tribune Staff Reporter

INTERNATIONAL organisations and local conservation groups are rallying to protect sharks in Bahamian waters following a Tribune article exposing the potential for shark finning in Andros.

Sunco Wholesale Seafood Ltd CEO James Mackey told The Tribune he would consider expanding his sea cucumber export operation in Mastic Point, North Andros, to include the export of shark fins to Hong Kong.

His comments sparked outcry from conservationists throughout the Bahamas and around the world as sharks are increasingly being fished to serve emerging markets for their meat and fins, which are used in soups and can fetch more than $200 per kilogram, and global shark populations have declined by as much as 80 per cent worldwide.

The Bahamas boasts the healthiest and most biologically diverse shark populations in the Atlantic as they have never been considered more than worthless bycatch, and the ban of long-line fishing following a BNT campaign 20 years ago greatly has decreased that risk.

However, there is also no legislation in place to prevent the taking of shark fins or catching and killing of sharks, and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), in partnership with the Pew Environment Group, is launching a campaign to put such legislation in place.

Shark campaign manager Shelley Cant said: "The BNT wants to further secure the future of all shark populations in the Bahamas by establishing legislation that fully protects these important species and make Bahamian waters a shark sanctuary."

The blossoming shark campaign has already won support from The Nature Conservancy, BREEF, Friends of the Environment, Earthcare, The Bahamas Sea Turtle Conservation Group, the Bahamas Humane Society, ReEarth, Tropic Sea Food and Envirologic Bahamas - all of which have vowed to lobby the government for legislation to protect the ocean's top predator.

International shark protection organisations Stop Shark Finning and Shark Advocates International have also stepped up to support the fight.

Duncan Carson, of Stop Shark Finning, called on Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Larry Cartwright to state the government's position on the issue following Monday's Tribune article, which he has distributed to around 22,000 readers of the group's website.

"Aside from being a barbaric practice, if it were allowed in the Bahamas, shark finning would soon decimate shark populations," Mr Carson wrote to Mr Cartwright.

"I can understand the desire to increase employment in the area, but this employment would be short lived, and would cease once the sharks had been killed."

Mr Carson and others have called on the government to recognise the economic benefits sharks can generate for marine ecotourism instead, such as recreational diving, shark feeding and shark watching.

As a former fisherman, Mr Cartwright agreed the country's healthy shark populations should be protected.

"We don't have a position on it yet, or any legislation to govern that right now," the Minister stated.

"But as a former fisherman, I think sharks need to be protected; all marine species do, they all serve a purpose.

"I wouldn't say shark finning is not going to happen here because what's happening elsewhere I am sure will come this way eventually, and when the time comes we will look into legislation."

BNT executive director Eric Carey said: "Shark fisheries are not sustainable and as such, all shark fishery, except for catch and release sports fishing, should be discouraged.

"Permanent protections for sharks should be considered by the relevant government agency now, especially in light of recent developments."

***FACT BOX: (maybe for turn page)

- Up to 73 million sharks are killed every year to supply the shark fin trade

- Of the 1,045 shark and ray species assessed by scientists for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 17 per cent are threatened with extinction and another 13 per cent have near-threatened status

- For 47 per cent of species scientists lack enough data to properly assess their population status

- There are 315 shark and ray species currently classified as threatened or near threatened with extinction, according to the IUCN including the great, scalloped, and smooth hammerhead sharks, whale shark, great white shark, oceanic whitetip shark and the shortfin mako shark.

- Declines in populations of sharks by as much to 70-80 per cent have been reported globally

- Some populations such as the porbeagle sharks int he northwestern Atlantic, have been reduced by 90 per cent or more

- Shark bycatch is frequently reported pelagic long-line fisheries targetting tuna and swordfish and can represent as much as 25 per cent of the total catch.

- The value of shark fins has increased with economic growth in Asia and this increased value is a major factor in the commercial exploitation of sharks worldwide.

- The removal of large sharks can negatively impact whole ecosystems by allowing an increase in the abundance of their prey, or influencing prey species through non-lethal means by causing behavioural changes to prey habitat use, activity level and diet

- Live sharks have a significant value for marine ecotourism such as recreational diving, shark feeding and shark watching

Now that you have read the article, and believe that the Bahamian sharks have to be fully protected, please sign this petition. Thank you very much.


Parag said...

This is a very serious issue. On one hand we promote ecotourism and on the other hand animals are killed for businesses.
When will they realize the importance and Benefits of ecotourism?

lyn nelson said...

To pursue the devastation of a species for short-term profit to fill the stomachs of people who do not know (or don't care) what's in their soup is to do wrong in the highest order. Sometimes doing the right thing involves change, even if it's a centuries-old cultural tradition.

Shame on the Bahamian government for even thinking of doing this. As a former resident of the Bahamas, I know most Bahamians would never go along with this as they are good, kind and caring people.

Do the right thing.

Bonus: you won't lower your tourism numbers....which, I assure you, will be the result if this road is chosen. There are a LOT OF US.