It is being increasingly acknowledged that this planet’s fish eco-systems are verging on collapse and major imbalance.
One aspect of this is the overfishing of sharks, mostly for Shark Fin Soup. Some nations around the world are beginning to take steps to protect sharks.
Most recently, The Bahamas banned any form of commercial shark fishing in an area of almost 2.4 million square kilometers.
Honduras and The Maldives have also banned shark fishing in their territorial waters.
The Brantford and Oakville city councils in Canada that have banned the sale of Shark Finn soup, and other cities like Toronto in Canada are now considering doing the same.
The states of Oregon, Hawaii and Washington in the USA have banned the possession and sale of shark fins. California is in the process of banning the sale of shark fins. The USA has banned shark fining in it’s waters since 2003.
The Pacific Island nation of Palau established the world’s first shark sanctuary in 2009, which bans the killing of sharks in an area approximately 54000 km2. That’s about the size of France.
But in Queensland, the government has actively EXPANDED the shark fining industry over the past 5 years.
They have done this through expansion of the East Coast Inshore Fin Fishery, located in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. As well as the ‘Gulf of Carpentaria Inshore Fin Fishery’. These fisheries were expanded explicitly to hunt sharks for their fins.
The main regulations the Qld government has put in place are: that the entire shark body is caught and used (so they don’t just slice of the fins and dump the fish); a system of licensing (S code), these licenses include the right to hunt for shark fin in Morton Bay and the Great Sandy Straits; keeping a daily log book; and that total catches are limited to 950 tonnes per year.
However Luke Tippple claims that fishing ships that are licensed “S code” are exempt from keeping the entire carcass of a catch.
By the way, these fisheries use ‘Gil Nets’ when hunting shark. These nets have a high level of by-catch. Some of this by-catch are endangered and threatened species. One species of threatened shark is the Black-Tip Shark. The Black-Tip Shark has been found to be sold in Coles and Woolworths as Flake. There are claims dugong and turtles as also killed by East Coast Inshore Fishery practises.
In the 2010 Annual Report of East Coast Inshore Fishery (ECIF), it appears the total catch of shark has dropped by about 50% over the last 3 years. Table 2 shows that in in 2008 they took 1114 tonnes, 2009 they took 968 tonne, while in 2010 they took 501 tonne of shark .
E.C.I.F. claim this demonstrates they are fishing sustainably. With the high price and demand for shark fin, the real reason for this substantial drop is most likely the collapse of local shark numbers in the Great Barrier Reef.
Some shark species take 15 years before reach sexual maturity, and have only one or two pups per year. So numbers are not replaced easily or quickly, increasing their vulnerability to over-fishing.
Then boycott Flake and all restaurants that serve Shark Fin Soup (even if you aren’t going to buy it yourself). And mostly importantly, start giving hell to Anna Bligh and the Queensland government!