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Stop shark finning: Neuman


Apr 26, 2011 12:00:00 AM

Shark finning in Fiji should be stopped to save our reefs says Beqa Adventures Divers director Mike Neuman.

This, Neuman said after Conservationists found that local fishermen are engaging in the inhumane practice of shark finning.

“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,” he told Fijilive.

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.” 

According to Neuman, the principal reason why tourists visit us is because of Fiji’s intact marine habitats.

“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 per cent of our GDP.”

“This is simply not a risk the country can afford,” he said.

Neuman added there have been instances in which local fishermen had targeted sharks specifically for their fins.

“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,” he explained.

“As you know, only very specific indigenous tribes revere Sharks – other tribes and our non-indigenous fishermen do harvest sharks. Commercial fishing for our smaller coastal sharks is increasing and linked to the beche-de-mer trade.

“Middlemen visit the villages and ask the fishermen for shark fins, and thus establish a commercial fishery.”

Neuman added that those fishermen need to understand that for a few dollars, they are endangering not only their future but that of their children and the future generations.

“The ‘qoliqoli’ is the land under the sea and like the land proper it must not be destroyed but needs to be preserved for future generations,” he added. 

He went further to say that 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 FJD$30,000 to the local economy annually, or FJD$600,000 during its lifetime – this compares to a few hundred dollars for its value when dead.”

A report by Pacific Scoop in 2009 stated that shark fins in Fiji can only fetch USD$150 for 500 grams, while elsewhere the shark fins can cost USD$400 to $800 a kilo depending on the size and species of the shark.

By Tevita Vuibau



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