WA is poised to further feed Asia’s appetite for shark fin in a controversial move being pushed by WA Fisheries Minister, Norman Moore. A delegation to China led by Fisheries Department director-general Stuart Smith found that there would be strong demand for WA shark fin with a ‘‘green stamp’’ that guaranteed it has come from sustainable sources. The minister and his department have now commissioned the independent Marine Steward-ship Council to analyze the state’s catch limits and fishing practices so WA can be certified as a sustainable fishery. – Extract from the Sunday Times Article October 7, 2012 which can be seen below.
There have been ongoing campaigns to save the sharks for many years now, from various organizations with ambassadors like Sir Richard Branson, Yao Ming and Jackie Chan to individual contributors. However, there is still a long way to go before humanity realizes the important role sharks play in the health of our oceans and the cruel barbarity of the shark fin trade. Claims that the market for shark fin is crashing due to campaigning by green groups are completely false. What is simply happening is that the shark populations worldwide are crashing due to over-fishing and the ongoing demand for shark fins. An IUCN study showed, one third of all shark species are threatened with extinction – most will not survive past 2020. In the last 20 years, shark populations around the world have been in steep decline, some by as much as 90%. As a last resort, shark finners are increasingly targeting marine reserves, as these are the only places left, the last stronghold for sharks. These marine reserves, rare and unique places, must be protected to ensure the biodiversity bank of our oceans.
For Department of Fisheries Director, Stuart Smith to say that Western Australia can provide a sustainable shark fin product to the Asian market, completely undermines the important work that has been done by Branson, Ming, Chan and all the non-government organisations campaigning to save the sharks. Not to mention the tireless work conducted by Sea Shepherd worldwide, most notably in the Galapagos where Sea Shepherd is working alongside authorities in their efforts to stamp out the illegal poaching of sharks in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. In addition to WA and Galapagos, there are various states and provinces around the world that have moved to ban shark finning or import/export of shark products. Statements like the one made by Stuart Smith show a complete lack of respect not only for sharks and the natural world, but also for future generations and highlights that Mr. Smith is completely uneducated about the important role sharks play in the health of our oceans and the dire situation they face globally.
“There is no such thing as sustainable shark fisheries, sharks are threatened with extinction worldwide. The decision by the WA government was made by politicians who have lost touch with reality. It’s greed over logic, profit over nature, money over our future. Here in the Galapagos people are in touch with nature and they understand that the value of a live shark far outweighs the value of a dead one. It is time the WA politicians wake up and join the program” –says Alex Cornelissen, Sea Shepherd Galapagos Director
To offer one of the last remaining strongholds for the sharks to the markets of Asia would be like finding an undiscovered group of endangered African Black Rhinos and offering them to poachers. There is no such thing as sustainable shark fin and to open this area up for shark fishing will only allow an even further level of corruption in the illegal trade in shark fin, a trade that is only third to the illegal trade in drugs and arms. Is this an industry that Australians want to be linked to?
The world is very concerned about the state of the world’s shark populations and will be watching the Western Australian government very closely on this. From a pure economic sense, not only would there be a direct loss in the dive industry, since many divers come to WA to see sharks, but due to the utter outrage of the world community, one may even seen a boycott of tourism in WA if this offer of WA shark fins were seriously ‘put on the table’ to the Asian market.
Australian Director, Jeff Hansen stated, “Imagine where our humpback whale population would be today, if right on the eve of the global moratorium on commercial whaling, some nation offered up a sustainable form of humpback whale meat to the market. Sharks have kept our oceans healthy for over 450 million years, oceans that give us up to 80 percent of our oxygen, we rely on sharks every day for our very survival. We need them, they don’t need us, and it’s long over due that we give them the respect they deserve. We can live just fine without a tasteless, nutrition-less bowl of soup, but we cannot live in this world without sharks.”
Stuart Smith, Norman Moore and the Western Australian Government have an opportunity to stand up for the sharks, to stand up for the health of our oceans, for the benefit of current and future generations.
What can you do to help?
Please contact Fisheries Minister Norman Moore to let him know your concerns about this matter.
To Contact the Minister
Honourable Norman Moore BA DipEd JP MLC
Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Fisheries; Electoral Affairs
Address: 4th Floor, London House, 216 St Georges Terrace, PERTH WA 6000
Telephone: (08) 6552-5400
Fax: (08) 6552-5401
Or Australians can also meet, phone or email their local MPs about not wanting Western Australia to assist in the continuing of this barbaric trade in shark fins.