Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fijian divers urge for stop of shark finning - Well done!

When Mike, aka Da Shark, dives into the news he doesn't not bother with "small things," he swims right into the middle of "epic issues."

Case in point an article that made nationwide news in China this week, taking the message to the people:

Fijian Divers have called for stopping shark finning in the island nation to save the reefs, local media FijiLive website reported here Tuesday.

Mike Neuman, Director of the Beqa Adventures Divers made the call after conservationists found that local fishermen are engaging in the illegal practice of shark finning, says the report.

"Like our mangroves, the reefs protect our coastline and their demise will lead to coastal erosion and flooding, especially during cyclones but also as the sea level rises due to Global warming," Neuman was quoted as saying.

Neuman said sharks play important roles in local marine ecosystems and were worth more alive than dead. "As an example, it has been observed that where there are reef sharks, the parrot fish that feed on coral cannot stay in one location for long but need to remain on the move. This prevents them from over- exploiting the corals."

The principal reason why tourists visit Fiji is because of Fiji's intact marine habitats, Neuman further explained, adding "be it for simply enjoying our beaches or for engaging in a plethora of water activities. If we destroy our oceans we risk loosing countless jobs and 55 percent of our GDP."

"This is simply not a risk the country can afford" and there have been instances in which local fishermen had targeted sharks specifically for their fins, he stressed. "Finning is just a particular harvesting technique that consists in cutting off the fins, often while the shark is still alive, and discarding the carcasses."

According to Neuman, fish stocks can recover if the reefs are being subsequently protected but sharks are very slow breeders and stocks will very likely not recover once they have been wiped out.

"As to the value of sharks for dive tourism, we have calculated that a single shark on our shark dive contributes 30,000 Fiji dollars (16,600 U.S. dollars) to the local economy annually, or 600,000 Fiji dollars (330,000 U.S. dollars) during its lifetime this compares to a few hundred dollars for its value when dead," he said.

A report by Pacific Scoop in 2009 stated that shark fins in Fiji can only fetch 50 U.S. dollars for 500 grams, while elsewhere the shark fins can cost 400 to 800 U.S. dollars a kilo depending on the size and species of the shark.

Article here.

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