Saturday, October 15, 2011

Shark Fin Workaround - Where There's a Market

The shark fin legal game - fins attached?
"Foreign fishing ships are bringing in shark skeletons – the flesh shaved away – with just their fins attached to the body. Local fishermen see this as another way that fishing fleets are evading shark finning laws."

This mornings news from San José, Costa Rica is a lesson in real world shark fin management with an apparent workaround to new shark fin laws that require the fins remain attached to the shark.

But what constitutes a whole shark?

That questions will have to be decided by the court system in Costa Rica while Taiwanese ships find creative ways to continue the shark fin trade unabated and it's not the first time this has happened:

"After Incopesca and the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry finally ruled in December 2010 that foreign fleets must unload at public docks subject to inspection, the first boat to unload was caught with illegal fins onboard. Shortly afterward, the fleet started showing up at the dock with only other species and no sharks. At the same time, huge shipments of shark fins began being imported to Costa Rica from Nicaragua."

The news from Costa Rica serves as an abject lesson to shark conservationists worldwide, we have to be looking a better ways to enact laws as seen through the lens of fishing fleets whose livelihood depends on shark fin. Additionally conservation groups need to refocus on recent vast tracks of declared shark sanctuaries around the world.

While these sanctuaries look great on paper only a small percent have any capability to actually monitor or enforce these areas. The new focus should be for long term funding and enforcement by outside agencies and NGO's.

Fisheries laws are made to be circumvented, and ignored.

Phase two in the global race for sharks begins now with this wake up call.