Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shark Finning Legal in NZ? Peter Bethune we have a job for you

While the rest of the planet is moving in lock step to prohibit the sale and trade in shark fin, New Zealand remains a growing and isolated outpost, completely out of step with global changes.

Remarkably New Zealand not only allows shark finning, it has a managed and growing quota for shark fin with 100% of exports going to Asia.

We happen to know this first hand having spent 2010 in New Zealand discovering this fishery, and the statistics are not promising.

New Zealand protects just two shark species, the great white shark and the basking shark, while 28 of the 79 shark species caught commercially in New Zealand are listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Many of those species are finned and fins are sent to Hong Kong for shark fin soup. Additionally New Zealand exports tons of shark liver oil and shark cartilage as part of this Asia trade.

For New Zealand fisheries this is a sweet, if not ugly deal, as global markets are shutting down, and traditional shark fin regions are declaring themselves shark fin free, New Zealand fishermen enjoy a higher cost per metric ton of shark fin, applying more pressure for higher quotas.

Which begs the question, who's looking after sharks in New Zealand?

Recently Peter Bethune aka ex-Sea Shepherd staff member declared his public divorce from said organization in a very nasty falling out. Peter has moved on to focus on his new direct action organization Earthrace Conservation based in New Zealand.

As we're not in New Zealand, we nominate Peter Bethune to take on shark finning. These are his home waters, this is his backyard, and the perfect stepping stone to launch his new conservation org.

The good news is he has an ally in the Green Party so this should be a slam dunk.