Wednesday, September 24, 2008

When Shark Tourism Fails

From the Diveshoppe Blog a sad but true first hand, on the ground, account of when shark tourism fails to act as a bridge solution to sustainable shark management:

Two days ago, I received a forwarded email message about Sharks Fin Soup & Squalene. Read on and find out what the fishermen in Donsol, Sorsogon do to earn a living when the whale shark sighting is off-season.

Hey Guys

Sorry to depress you with these photos.. they were taken in Donsol, Sorsogon (whale shark habitat), just two weeks ago by my friend Omar. The finned sharks are thresher, hunted by the hundreds..The pink stuff in the bucket are little pieces of shark liver (from dog sharks) for squalene. Pictured here are the liver from some 1,000 + dog sharks that were caught..they live at least 2 fathoms deep..This is the way the fishermen earn in the off season..they sell it to middle men who bring it to Taiwan and Hong Kong. Ive seen firsthand the hunting of dog shark and finning in Sorsogon and even Siargao but I am certain in happens everywhere.

What we can DO is raise awareness..Thought you might like to shock some of your friends into ABSTAINING from Shark Fin Soup and Squalene products and better boycott establishments that sell them.Please forward if you wish"

Thanks,Denise (Celdran)

After reading her message I immediately emailed Denise Celdran to find out more. She said that she knows the community personally because she is a volunteer of the Bantay Kalikasan in Donsol. She added that the fishermen and the boatmen conserve the “butanding” or whale shark. But during the off season, their livelihood is “shark finning” which is just another form of fishing for them. The fishermen don’t even earn much and it is the middle men and the retailer who makes the”killing”.

She is appealing to whoever reads this not to blame the fishermen. She said that laws must be made to make shark finning as well as manta ray hunting illegal. Manta ray hunting is being actively practiced in Pilar - a town next to Donsol.

Denise is working with the Donsol community to find alternative livelihood for the fishermen. They are currently understaffed and have lots of issues in Donsol to contend with. She is also encouraging all our dear readers to help them find an intelligent solution to the problem.

I am relaying this story in order to bring more awareness to the issue. Hopefully, you know someone in the government preferably in the Congress and Senate who can help pass a law making shark finning and manta ray hunting illegal in our country.

To date, there’s still no International law banning shark finning and manta ray hunting. There are a few places where shark finning is illegal like the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico where shark finning is banned since 1993 and state of Hawaii in 2000. Costa Rica has recently passed a law but it just bans removal of shark fins while at sea.

Lets help conserve the sharks by spreading the word.


Rachael Webber said...

This is horrific!

JLo said...

Sad reality... Dropped an e-mail to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and informed them of what's going on.

Shark Diver said...

Hi jlo,

We liked your blog thanks for posting. We need more eyes in your part of the world to bring back stories about sharks. Interested in joining us?

JLo said...

Yes. I'll support your cause.