Monday, August 15, 2011

Faulty Shark Conservation Foundation Numbers?

It would appear so, and Mike aka Da Shark, has the unenviable task of bringing what amounts to conservation heresy to the masses this week.

It is clear that the conservation world does not fully understand the shark fin trade and we have said this many times before.

They understand the basic concepts behind the trade, they make assumptions based on the trade, but it is an argument driven by fragmented data and a whole lotta passion - it's a conservation Sword of Damocles.

Do we know how many fins are traded each year? Do we know where the trade markets originate, with what species and in what quantities? Do we understand emerging shark fin markets? Do we understand the global value of the shark fin trade? Do we understand the main players in the shark fin trade? Are they really based in Hong Kong? California? South East Asia?

There are so many unanswered questions that get pigeonholed into the "100-70 million sharks killed" statement. Which as we found out last month is a best guess, one that in the absence of actual data spawned a host of ridiculous shark conservation "statements of fact".

1. "a billion sharks a year are killed for fins"

2. "if we kill all the worlds sharks we will run out of oxygen"

3. "the oceans will completely collapse without sharks"

All of this amounts to a runaway train of conservation misinformation lead by many of the top tier NGO's and their aligned sub tier groups who have carried the party line of "100 million shark killed" to this moment in time.

They are also aware that this data is faulty at best, at worst a lie, and still used to make an argument. Case in point the drive to get California to ban the sale and possession of shark fins.
The fate of a proposed bill is to be decided this month based largely on the faulty 100 million quote.

There's ancillary evidence to support some big declines of certain shark species, and as the counter argument goes, we are saving sharks for the broader conservation effort the oceans in general.

So what's the deal about the numbers?

Numbers translate into credibility. The shark conservation movement has managed to pull off an outstanding coup with far ranging shark protection measures and even entire shark sanctuaries based on the faulty numbers.

All that is good for sharks, but now these numbers have been outed it is high time for the shark conservation world to get serious about the internal drivers of a global industry they seek to diminish and end.

Think of it as growing up. We can think of 100 million reasons why this new fact based understanding of a global industry, it's impacts on regional species, and global trade would benefit everyone...including the sharks.

Infographic by Save Our Seas Foundation.


Cheers,
Patric Douglas CEO
www.sharkdiver.com
www.sharkdivers.com
415.235.9410

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