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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Killer Australian shark will not be hunted: police

Jared from FairTradeSG sent in this article. He says, "A balanced article, although the headline didn't do it justice." Agreed!

Great news from the Australian authorities.
Killer Australian shark will not be hunted: police
AFP - Sunday, December 28, Yahoo! Singapore

SYDNEY (AFP) - - Australian authorities said Sunday they will not attempt to hunt down a shark believed to have killed a swimmer, as reports said the victim would not have wanted the predator to die.

Fremantle Water Police, who were Sunday searching the area for any remains, said there would be no attempt to hunt the shark.

"There's no way of knowing which shark it would be," Senior Sergeant Greg Trew said. "We could hunt down every shark from here to eternity without knowing whether we had the right one."

Reports said that Guest had a deep respect for the ocean and its hazards and would not have wanted the animal killed.

"I have always had an understanding with my wife that if a shark or ocean accident caused my death then so be it," he wrote on a fishing website forum in 2004, national news agency AAP said.

The sentiment was echoed by an unnamed family friend who was quoted as telling Western Australia's Sunday Times that Guest was aware that those using the ocean were "in their (sharks') territory".

"He was a man of the sea. We are just glad he went on the ocean. It was his passion," the friend said.

Leading shark researcher Rory McAuley said despite the idea perpetuated by Hollywood movies such as "Jaws" that sharks would repeatedly attack, this view was not held up by science.

"The old theory of the rogue shark that gets a taste for humans and repeatedly attacks has really been discredited over the past 30 years," said McAuley, a senior research scientist with the state Department of Fisheries.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yahoo! owns 40% of, the largest marketplace for illegally harvested shark fins.

Animal Planet Whale Wars TV Star Captain Paul Watson Appears on Rainmaker on WebmasterRadio.FM
23 December 2008, PRWeb

Fort Lauderdale, Florida (PRWEB) December 23, 2008 - Whale Wars Host and Sea Shepherd President Captain Paul Watson was interviewed live on WebmasterRadio.FM on Thursday December 18th. Appearing on the show RainMaker, Watson was interviewed while on the bridge of the M/Y Steve Irwin which is currently hunting the Japanese whaling fleet near Antarctica.

Captain Paul Watson is host of Whale Wars, a Discovery Network series documenting the Sea Shepherd Society's attempts to stop illegal commercial whaling around Antarctica.

During his appearance on RainMaker, Watson singled out Yahoo! for its 40% stake in Chinese search engine which Watson and other environmental organizations say is the largest marketplace for illegally harvested shark fins. Watson asked listeners to email their contacts at Yahoo! to complain about Yahoo!'s involvement in what Watson says is, "the destruction of the world's sharks for shark fin soup in China."

The archived podcast of this interview can be found on the WebmasterRadio.FM website ( inside the Entertainment channel under "Rainmaker".

Whale shark magnificence in marine park

Two very different reports from different parts of the world.

Australia is reports the conservation and observation of whale sharks in their natural environment. Whale shark tourism accounts for about AUD$12 million revenue to Western Australia a year. These creatures are meant to be in the wild. They have a huge migratory range and the only real way to appreciate them is in their natural environment!

Whale shark magnificence in marine park
23rd December 2008, 8:45, The West Australian

Ningaloo Marine Park gives visitors an opportunity to swim with the whale sharks when the magnificent creatures migrate to the marine park's warm waters each year between late March and June.

The whale shark is listed as a vulnerable species and prior to 1985, there were less than 350 confirmed reports of whale sharks worldwide.

Since then, their recorded annual migratory appearance at Ningaloo Marine Park has helped researchers to find out more about this incredible species.
This is an article from Mangalore, India, where some fishermen celebrate catching a whale shark. This very different from Gujarat in ‘shark’ focus ahead of introducing whale shark tourism posted earlier. Conservation policy across different countries and even different states are often inconsistent this way.

Whale sharks are listed as Endangered under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and are supposed to be protected from capture and trafficking.

Funny how a whale shark is going to be captured for a Singapore aquarium then! I think if we let this continue our whale shark will soon be like the picture below!

Mangalore: Jumbo Catch - Fishermen Land 1200 kg Shark Fish
Monday, December 22, 2008 10:49:11 PM (IST), Daijiworld Media Network

Mangalore, Dec 22: The local fishermen caught a tiger (Whale?) shark weighing around 1,200 kgs when they ventured into the Arabian Sea, off New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT), here on the afternoon of Monday December 22.

The local fishermen fishing off the NMPT, in their outboard fitted mechanized boat ‘Jala Vijaya’ found a tiger shark entangled in their fishing net. The fishermen on board the boat sought the help of others to tow into port, what is thought to be, the largest ever fisheries catch to date.

The prized tiger shark was finally brought to shore near Bunder and attracted a huge crowd eager for a glimpse of the mammoth fish.

Let's make sure these endangered and beautiful sharks are free in the wild!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

China's largest shopping site bans sale of shark fin products

Great news from China!

China's Largest Shopping Site Bans Sale of Shark Fin Products
BEIJING, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW- congratulates Taobao (, China's largest shopping website for its ban on the sale of shark fin products on the site. announced to its 400 million online members that all shark fin products will be banned from trade on starting 1, January 2009.

Asia is the main market for shark fin products. In major cities in China, shark fin soup is readily available on the menu in restaurants. With the coming of Chinese New Year Festivals, shark fin soup consumption will significantly increase.

However, fueled by big profit margins and the increase in shark fin consumption, overfishing of sharks is threatening more than 50 percent of the shark species with extinction. As top predators in the ocean, sharks play an important role in keeping ecosystem balance. However, an estimated 100 million sharks are killed globally each year.

"Consuming shark fin is not only harmful to the marine biodiversity, but promotes the cruel practice of shark finning, where sharks had their fins cut off then thrown back into the ocean, still alive, die a horribly painful death." said Grace Gabriel, IFAW's Asia Regional Director. "It is our choice as consumers to say No to shark fin products. Consuming wildlife equals killing."

Taobao's decision to ban shark fin was also applauded by its users. In an online message, a Hangzhou netizen condemns the shark fin trade by posting shocking pictures of shark finning. According to this posting, 5000 Kilos of shark fin are consumed daily in Beijing alone. Active Taobao users also call on others to report online shark fin sales to site management when the notice takes effect in January.

Peter Pueschel, IFAW's Program Manager hailed the move. "This is really amazing and wonderful that the leading cyber market provider in the biggest shark fin consumer nation bans shark fins. What a strong signal to other auction sites and governments in other parts of the world!"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Should you be afraid of sharks?

Should you be afraid of sharks?
By MICHAEL FOX - Friday, 19 December 2008

Few creatures capture the imagination or instil such a sense of fear as the shark, but scientists believe that fear is unreasonable.

NIWA shark expert Malcolm Francis tries to put the threat of an attack into context:

"Humans are a top predator ourselves and we don't like the idea that there is another predator out there that is bigger and stronger than we are and might eat us.

"But, having said, that there's a lot more people killed every year by tigers, lions, hippos round the world than there are by sharks and yet we seem to have this real fear of sharks and what they might do to us."

It appears a lot of the fear and misinformation about sharks comes from a startling lack of scientific information.

What science has told us is that shark numbers are drastically low. Nineteen of the world's shark species are listed as vulnerable, 17 endangered, and four critically endangered, according to the 2000 World Conservation Union Red List. Four New Zealand sharks - including the basking, spiny dogfish, whale and great white - were listed as vulnerable.

Humans kill more than 100 million sharks worldwide each year, in recreational and commercial fishing. Though Great Whites have been protected in New Zealand since 2007, many are still caught in nets and on long lines by commercial fisherman.

One thing is certain: sharks across the globe are in danger of being wiped out. There are already vast areas of the ocean where sharks have been fished out, Francis says.

Francis believes people have a moral imperative to protect sharks. But only further research and policy change will save them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Basking in shame

An article from David Suzuki about the endangered basking shark. He is so cool, like real like Mr Miyagi!
Basking in shame
By David Suzuki with Faisal Moola,, December 18, 2008

The basking shark is huge – often bigger than a bus. As fish go, it’s second in size only to the whale shark. It has been roaming the world’s oceans for at least 30 million years. Mariners throughout history have mistaken it for a mythical sea serpent or the legendary cadborosaurus. Despite its massive size, it feeds mostly on tiny zooplankton.

Only half a century ago, people taking a ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island may have spotted half a dozen lazily swimming by. But now, reported sightings are down to fewer than one a year off the B.C. coast. All indications are that this magnificent animal is on the edge of extinction. It makes my blood boil!

Over the past two centuries, people have been killing them for sport, for food, for the oil from their half-tonne livers, and to get them out of the way of commercial fishing operations. Many were also killed accidentally by fishing gear.

These animals need to be protected under strong species at risk legislation. When one species goes extinct, the repercussions cascade throughout the environment. We can’t afford any more losses.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Whale shark cartoon

I just found this whale shark cartoon by Singaporean cartoonist sei-ji rakugaki.

Many people I talk to don't know that Singapore is planning to have a whale shark in captivity, and all of them are shocked when they find out. I am sure that most Singaporeans will be against this cruel tourist circus act disguised as "conservation", so please spread the word!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shark fin soup alters an ecosystem

More CNN coverage on shark fin soup.

Shark fin soup alters an ecosystem
December 10, 2008 -- Updated 1813 GMT, By Lisa Ling Special to CNN CNN Photo Gallery

Sharks existed before there were dinosaurs and they pre-date humans by millions of years. Yet, in a relatively short period of time, humans and their technological arsenal have driven most shark populations to the verge of extinction.

This is bad news for the world's oceans. Sharks are the top predator in the ocean and are vital to its ecosystem. The rapid reduction of sharks is disrupting the ocean's equilibrium, according to Peter Knights, director of WildAid International.

"These are ecosystems that have evolved over millions and millions of years," said Knights. "As soon as you start to take out an important part of it, it's like a brick wall, you take out bricks [and] eventually it's going to collapse."

When sharks attack humans, it inevitably makes news - it is a sexy story. What is rarely reported is that worldwide, sharks kill an average of 10 people every year. It's usually when people venture into a shark's habitat and not the other way around. By contrast, humans kill around 100 million sharks every year - a number that has ballooned in recent years because of the enormous demand for shark fins to make shark fin soup.

To satiate the appetites of upwardly mobile Chinese, fishermen traverse all corners of the Earth's oceans in search of sharks or, more specifically, their fins. Because space is limited on fishing vessels and shark bodies are bulky and not considered as valuable, fishermen often catch the sharks, saw off their fins and toss the sharks back into the water. Without their fins, sharks cannot swim and they sink to the ocean floor, where they're picked at by other fish and left to die.

The fate of the shark is grim. Increasing public awareness of the shark's role in the marine ecosystem and the rapid rate of extinction because of the demand for shark fin soup may be the best hope for the shark, which has inhabited the planet for 400 million years.

Commentary: Only China can save our sharks

A CNN commentary by Peter Knights from WildAid, who are pushing for an international ban of shark fin soup. WildAid is an international conservation organization focused on ending the demand for illegal and unsustainable wildlife products. He has researched the trade in shark fin for 10 years and has worked on conservation programs in 45 countries.

Not only China, all Chinese should save the sharks!

Commentary: Only China can save our sharks
December 10, 2008 -- Updated 1959 GMT, By Peter Knights Special to CNN

Though the cartilage from the fins has no real flavor and is basically just protein, this soup retains a cachet that can fetch more than $100 per bowl. It is bought for business dinners, banquets and weddings as an indication of high spending to "honor" guests, but it is leading to environmental vandalism on a massive scale worldwide.

Fishing for fins has spread to the most remote parts of the planet as easily accessible shark populations have already plummeted, some by up to 95 percent in the last fifteen years.

Although most shark fishing is completely unrestricted, in the few areas they are protected they are still being heavily poached. In the Galapagos Marine Reserve, up to 10,000 fins (2,500 sharks) have been seized in a single shipment and endangered sea lions and dolphins are used as bait.

That is why WildAid focuses on trying to end the demand -- the only long-term solution. WildAid believes that "when the buying stops, the killing can, too."

China's most popular star, Yao Ming, championed the program pledging to never again eat shark fin soup, generating 300 news stories.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Too few sharks is a bad thing

This article really made me depressed.

The unsustainable rate at which sharks are being exploited for shark fin not only affects the species and the ecosystem, but it also ends up affecting the livelihood of poor fishermen all over the world.

The fishermen get only a small percentage of the end value of the shark fin eventhough it increases in value from middleman to middleman until it ends up on our tables. And to what end? We exploit and deplete the major protein source for the third world with our ridiculous demand for this "luxury" item.

Why isn't there a worldwide program for the conservation of sharks!!
MADAGASCAR: Too few sharks is a bad thing
TOLIARA, 4 December 2008 (IRIN), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Coastal communities in southwestern Madagascar, who risk their lives travelling long distances in dugout canoes to supply a lucrative demand for shark fins, face an uncertain future as unsustainable fishing practices threaten the survival of the marine resources on which they depend.

When shark fisherman Zoffe loads his nets into his pirogue (a dugout canoe, often with a sail) in the morning and sets out from his home in the coastal town of Morombe into the deep waters of the Mozambique Channel, he knows that he will be lucky if he catches anything. "It is really hard to catch shark now," Zoffe told IRIN.

"Things are not like they used to be; before, there used to be shark very near the shore - just five metres below the surface of the sea - now they are only found very far away, and are very deep. They are very difficult to catch."

Demand for shark fin in China, where the meat is considered a delicacy, and for sea cucumbers, which are believed to be an aphrodisiac, have become major sources of income in Madagascar, which exports up to 20 tonnes of shark fins every year. A kilogram can fetch as much as 140,000 ariary ($56) on local markets, and up to $1,000 in China.

Madagascar has a long way to go in protecting its marine resources. "It is very difficult to stop fishermen from catching shark and collecting sea cucumbers," said Rabenevanana. "These fishermen are poor and the attraction of fishing for sharks and sea cucumbers is huge. If we truly want to protect our resources we must address the market. We must do more to discourage the Chinese from eating shark fin soup; perhaps we can even find an alternative."

There are no conservation programmes in place to protect sharks. "It is not a sustainable fishery because it is not properly regulated," Volanirina Ramahery, of the World Wide Fund for Nature, an environmental NGO, told IRIN.

The decline of the primary predator could unbalance the entire marine food chain. Studies in the Caribbean have shown that too few sharks mean other carnivorous species increase and eat too many other useful fish, such as those keeping algae on the coral in check, which can eventually endanger the entire reef ecosystem.

"The disappearance of sharks would have devastating impacts on marine habitats and the local communities that depend on these," Frances Humber, a marine biologist studying shark populations in southern and western Madagascar with the British conservation organisation, Blue Ventures, told IRIN.

"A collapse in the shark fishing industry could threaten the economic stability of the region, and would mean the loss of livelihoods for thousands of fisherman."

Planet in Peril: Shark finning

Planet in Peril: Shark finning
Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Lisa Ling report in the CNN Worldwide investigation, "Planet in Peril: Battle Lines."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Great whites on display

A good article about another breed of shark in captivity. I think holding any type of large migratory species captive is just wrong. Especially if you are creating a market for the capture and trafficking of the species.

Great Whites on Display - Has Scientific Pursuit Put This Predator Back on the Market?
Tuesday, December 9, 2008 By Alastair Bland, The Santa Barbara Independent

Four Southern California great white sharks have resided on display at the Monterey Bay Aquarium since 2004 — each in the Outer Bay exhibit for as long as six months before being released back into the wild. Aquarium spokespeople say the display program has benefited public perception of sharks everywhere and, ultimately, will boost interest and activism in preserving the ocean’s diminishing shark populations.

However, five great whites have died in the hands of the Monterey Bay Aquarium since 2004, when the facility began acquiring juveniles entangled in the nets of certain boats and, consequently, critics have suggested that the aquarium is doing less for wild great whites than it is for its own box office sales.

Van Sommeran (an independent shark researcher and founder of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation) believes that science gains little when large pelagic animals are housed in tanks, an activity he has spoken against for years. “The public interest in these fish is already as high as it’s ever been, so the question is, ‘Is the shark on display to raise awareness? Or is it on display because awareness is high?’”

Van Sommeran even wonders if the effects of the Outer Bay shark exhibits could have a negative net effect on California great whites. “The aquarium says they’re promoting interest in protecting them, but [great] white sharks are already a protected species in California. Without the aquarium’s display program, there would be no one fishing for them. Anyone who did would be a poacher.”

Isn't it obvious that these aquariums and oceanariums are getting away with hiding their money-making schemes under the banner of "conservation", just like Resort World Sentosa.

Other researchers have noted that — in spite of public enthusiasm for sharks, shark movies, and shark exhibits — the slaughter of wild sharks for fins, flesh, and wall mounts remains rampant. In the 1980s, after an undercover filmmaker took footage of commercial tuna fishers massacring hundreds of dolphins, the world reacted with outrage and activism. However, abundant primetime footage of fishers slicing the fins from live sharks before discarding the crippled fish back into the sea has not quite had the same effect. Wild sharks are 90 percent gone, say scientists, and still diners eat them in restaurants.

I really don't understand this. I guess sharks are just not as cuddly and adorable as dolphins or seals. But sharks are just as, and maybe even more, essential to the balance of the oceanic food chain and we really need them around!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Blue sharks facing challenges

Blue sharks facing challenges, foundation finds
Sefira bracha fialkoff - Sentinel
, Posted: 11/29/2008 01:31:35 AM PST

A 7-foot-long blue shark that was tagged and released in Monterey Bay this summer was killed in a drift gill-net off of the Channel Islands of Southern California last month, highlighting the perils the once-numerous species faces.

The shark was collected, tagged and released during a routine shark survey by the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation. The foundation began tagging sharks in the bay in 1990.

"We've been able to map out the migratory path of these animals and with this information we've basically proven a lot of conventional wisdom wrong," said Sean Van Sommeran, foundation director.

When the foundation started, blue sharks were thought to have a coastal migratory route, but the group's research indicates a deep-water pan-Pacific route.

"These sharks showing up so far from the original projected paths are indicators of extreme fishing pressures," Van Sommeran said.

Blue sharks are heavily impacted by high seas, coastal drift gill-nets and by the finning industry, which kills sharks for their high dollar value fins, Van Sommeran said.

It's all about sustainability. If you take out a long-standing fixture of an environment, it has a very negative effect," Van Sommeran said.

The Shark Finning Prohibition Act, signed in 2000, made it illegal for a foreign vessel to offload shark fins in a U.S. port, unless they offload the rest of the shark carcass as well. The rule is aimed at drastically reducing the number of sharks finned and carcasses discarded at sea.

"There's a big problem with enforcing these regulations, because when they find boats with sharks fins on them you can't tell where it was collected or what type of species it is," said Van Sommeran.

First as Malaysian eco resort stops serving shark's fin soup; Finning 'despicable and shameful practice'

First As Malaysian Eco Resort Stops Serving Shark's Fin Soup; Finning 'Despicable And Shameful Practice' September 27, 2008 16:32 EST

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia -- At least one resort here has started the ball rolling to prevent sharks being cruelly mutilated for their prized fins at sea.

Gayana Eco Resort will refrain from serving shark fin soup at its recently-refurbished Alu Alu Seafood Restaurant.

"Killing sharks and throwing them away just for their fins is a despicable and shameful practice that must be stopped," said Nilakrisna James, spokesperson and PR Consultant for the resort.
Congratulations to Gayana Eco Resort, this just shows the hypocrisy of Resort World Sentosa's "commitment to conservation".

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bleaching of shark fins

I don't understand why shark fin is so sought after when it's obvious that it's totally not fit for human consumption. It's got no taste and has to be heavily treated before being edible. I wouldn't pay a large sum of money to eat bleach regardless of whether the amount is enough to cause any "severe toxicity".

From the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks:

Processing of "raw" fins

2.3.4 Bleaching

The fins are usually bleached to give them a desirable whitish colour. The methods include smoking with sulphur overnight or treatment with 3 % hydrogen peroxide for about 30 minutes.
The Centre for Food Safety in Hong Kong has this to say about hydrogen peroxide:
Oral ingestion of 3% hydrogen peroxide solutions (household strength) generally does not result in severe toxicity but may result in vomiting, mild irritation to mucosa and burns in the mouth, throat, oesophagus and stomach. Ingestion of higher concentration, e.g. >10%, can result in more dangerous sequelae such as burns to mucus membranes and gut mucosa.

In Hong Kong, hydrogen peroxide can be used in food as a bleaching agent provided that the residue should be removed in the finished products. Furthermore, only food grade hydrogen peroxide should be used in processing food and the dosage used should be limited to the amount sufficient for the purpose.

14 out of 25 shark fin samples were found to have residual hydrogen peroxide ranging from 0.0002% to 1.5%. This indicated that the processing of some shark fins had not followed good manufacturing practice. As hydrogen peroxide is unstable, the levels found in the dry shark fin samples would not have adverse health effects as the usual steps of preparation and cooking of shark fin would effectively remove the residual hydrogen peroxide, if any, in shark fins. Nevertheless, the traders have been warned to adhere to good manufacturing and processing procedures.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Eating rotten shark

A National Geographic video.

Shark meat is full of ammonia and urea that it has to be left to rot for 6 months before it's palatable.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Whale shark conservation and tourism

Gujarat in ‘shark’ focus ahead of introducing whale shark tourism BASHIR PATHAN Posted: Nov 27, 2008

Gandhinagar, November 26 : Foreign as well as domestic tourists visiting Gujarat will now get a chance to watch whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) from a close range in their natural habitat, as the Whale Shark Watching Tourism is all set to be introduced off the Saurashtra coast.

Note: Natural habitat!
It has also been proposed to work out combined packages involving other nearby tourist destinations to attract tourists. “This is to create awareness about the need for conservation and protection of the amazing whale sharks, and generate employment for the local fishermen,” said a senior Forest official involved in the project.

The whale shark was once known to be hunted along the Gujarat coast in large numbers. According to a survey conducted in 1999-2000, as many as 591 sharks had been reported killed for liver oil that was used for waterproofing wooden boats and the meat for export. India banned whale shark hunting in 2001, making it the first fish to be protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act,

Later, the Gujarat government launched an awareness campaign to protect sharks, involving local fishermen and religious leaders. The voluntary conservation programme now has local fishermen, especially in the coastal areas of Veraval, Mangrol, Porbandar and Sutrapada, playing an active role.

Are Singaporeans so far removed from a relationship with nature that they think keeping a whale shark in a tank is okay? There is NO WAY to duplicate in a captive environment what a whale shark experiences in its lifetime migrating across oceans. And similarly keeping a whale shark in captivity is IN NO WAY anything close to conservation, no matter how much Resort World Sentosa tries to pretend it is.

Come on guys, even India knows better.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Taiwan bans whale shark consumption & trade

Another country in our vicinity who took heed of the need for conservation of whale sharks.

How can Resort World Sentosa claim to be able to sustain these giant animals with "love" and "care" when they are obviously not suited for captivity! How is that loving and caring in any way? I think they only love and care for money and profit.
Taiwan bans whale shark consumption, trade by 2008
Craig Simons and Mark Davis, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 21, 2007

Taiwan will ban the harvest and sale of whale sharks beginning in 2008, a decision that could have repercussions at the Georgia Aquarium and other facilities where the world's largest fish are displayed.

The Georgia Aquarium, the world's largest aquarium, has three whale sharks from Taiwan, a major supplier of whale sharks. It is negotiating to get two more this summer from the Taiwanese government, before the ban takes effect.

The aquarium had four whale sharks until January, when a male, Ralph, died. A necropsy showed the fish died of peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdomen. He also had stomach perforations, possibly caused by force-feeding through a PVC pipe.

Taiwanese officials say they want to know more about Ralph's death before approving the export of two more.

The species needs protecting, said Brad Norman, director of Ecocean, an Australian nonprofit group working worldwide to protect whale sharks. He called the ban "absolutely fantastic."

"The number of whale sharks has dropped dramatically over the past few years and the ban sends a message both to Taiwan and the rest of the world that officials there recognize how imperiled this animal is," Norman said.

Malaysian ministry bans shark's fin soup

Wah usually Singapore takes pride in "making the first move" ahead of Malaysia, but I think in this case we need to follow in Malaysia's footsteps!

How will Singaporeans take the situation seriously if even the government says it's okay to have shark's fin soup at official functions.
Malaysian ministry bans shark's fin soup
from Channel NewsAsia, 15 September 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has struck off shark's fin soup from the menus at official functions, to help conserve the species, a report said Saturday.

"By refraining from the consumption of shark's fin soup, it is hoped that the ministry would contribute in one way or another towards the current conservation efforts for sharks species," he said.

"Their demise would start off a domino effect, which at each stage could result in the depletion or overpopulation of other fish and marine species leading to an imbalance in the marine ecosystem," he said.

Shocking images show scale of fin trade

I wonder how long people can remain ignorant about what is going on at their doorstep! We sit in our restuarants eating sharks fin soup while a stone's throw away in Bali fishermen are feeding this demand by destroying whole shark populations. People who eat sharks fin soup are responsible for this demand, regardless of whether you eat it because it's already dead, or because it's in front of you. If everybody left the sharks fin soup at weddings, the hosts will know that it's not worth the money because nobody is enjoying it! You have to take a stand mah!

A sad shark's tale: Shocking images show scale of fin trade
By Daily Mail Reporter 17th November 2008

An enormous haul of shark fins being readied for sale at Denpasar Fisheries Harbour on the Indonesian island of Bali.

Figures from the World Wildlife Fund and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, show that in for 2006 alone 98,250 tonnes of shark fins were caught and sold, making up 13 percent of the world market.

Renowned freelance photographer, Gunther Deichmann, 58, who photographed the shark fin haul, is adamant the world should confront the growing issue of shark fin trading.

Gunther noticed hammerhead and black tip sharks in the haul and was particularly struck by the knowledge sharks are thrown back into the water alive and tailless, condemned to a rudderless, painful death.

'The sad thing about the catch is that they will just pack up and go out and do it again. This is a multi-million dollar industry and will not be stopped until all the sharks have been eaten it seems. I really don't know what all the fuss is about. The soup doesn't even taste good in my opinion,' he added.

As shark fishing continues to increase, populations are rapidly going into decline. The bodies of the sharks are simply tossed back into the water from giant ocean going trawlers after being caught.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Illegal shark fishing on Shark Island

National Geographic Society video about how the demand for sharks fin is affecting even the protected sharks in Costa Rica's Cocos Island National Park as they are hunted by illegal fishing boats and poachers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Shark attack!

While I was looking for bona fide videos of shark attacks on Youtube I found this which is quite amusing! In fact most of the videos of "shark attacks" were backyard spoofs and other fictional films.

It is this "monster marketing" of irrational fear of sharks that creates an obstacle for the their conservation. This is a great letter from the International Shark Discussion Forum to Discovery Channel's about their marketing of Shark Week.

International Shark Discussion Forum Takes Stance Against Discovery's Shark Week 'Monster' Marketing
underwatertimes 19 Jul 07

It's no secret that people love monsters, blood, teeth and frights. On Shark Week, that seems to be what you are offering them, even though this subject matter fails to reflect current scientific understanding of these unusual and important fish.

For example, though there are about 500 known shark species, inhabiting a wide range of ecolological niches, your shows focus on the biggest top predators, especially the great white shark.

In recent years, conservation groups as well as individuals and scientists have become concerned to the point of alarm at the speed with which sharks have been depleted, mostly for the growing market for shark fin soup.

Casting sharks in a negative light leads to increased devastation of the species that you feature, even if that is not your intention.

Apart from the waste and brutality involved in shark finning, the threat of extinction is such an important part of the reality sharks face, that we ask why you have not used your power to publicize it. It is your responsibility as a credible media company to portray the perilous situation sharks face, thus bolstering consumer awareness and action.

On the contrary, we know from personal experience that you take the trouble to clip information about the finning crisis from your sequences about sharks, deliberately concealing the facts of this oceanic catastrophe from your viewers, who innocently believe that you are presenting them with science.

Your own words clearly express how you promote and prolong their "Mindless Man-eater" image, and contribute to an attitude that allows their mass slaughter with almost no public sympathy, nor protest: "Ocean of Fear: Worst Shark Attack Ever" "Deadly Stripes: Tiger Sharks" "Top 5 Eaten Alive" "Shark Feeding Frenzy"

In the 1970s, Peter Benchley's fictional best-seller, JAWS (which Steven Spielberg made into a blockbuster movie), dramatically increased our immemorial fear of sharks.

By the 1980s, that fear had largely given way to curiosity, resulting in an unprecedented amount research on them.

Thus, in the 1990s, as sharks became target species for Asian markets, scientific data were available to combat the new threat to sharks.

We are no longer in the 1970s, and the archaic perception of sharks you present belongs on the History Channel, not the Discovery Channel. Peter Benchley became a spokesman for sharks and an ardent shark conservationist. We suggest Discovery Channel follow his example and move Shark Week into the 21st Century.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A suggestion to replace whale sharks at the IR

Singaporeans like to get up in arms about things and often we're accused of not coming up with solutions and instead just compounding on the problem. Well here's a solution to the whale sharks in captivity that sounds good to me!

unpublished letter to the media from WildSingapore.
Sea Shepherds on the Whale Sharks at Sentosa IR
Letter from Grant W. Pereira Asian Education Advisor Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

I read with concern your article entitled "Activist against having a whale of a time" by Krist Boo in the Straits Times (October 26th, Home page) that Krezner International plans to have an aquarium at the Integrated Resort to keep the endangered whaleshark and beluga whales.

How ironic on the same day, the "TODAY" newspaper had an article entitled "WHALE SHARK RESEARCHER, BRAD NORMAN WINS ROLEX AWARD" by Ashraf Safdar.

Mr Norman received this prestigious award from our President Mr. S. R. Nathan, by monitoring the movements of the endangered shark.

The whale shark has a migratory range of 13,000 km and can dive to 980 metres, can Kerzner build an aquarium to suit their requirements?

Perhaps the A.V.A. would like to comment about the legal implication of keeping an endangered species in a captive environment?

Perhaps also Kerzner would like to make their scientific research on the whale shark public so that marine experts can make comments on these findings.

The Singapore Government has always worked towards being a caring and sophisticated society and keeping a magnificent fish that needs both space and depth hardly augurs well with the international worldwide image we want to project.

Instead of a whaleshark in captivity, how about a sunken ship as an artificial reef so that our young can learn first hand about corals etc and how they support marine life. I am sure this would be a first worldwide as only divers have seen how these structures support marine biodiversity.

Let's abandon this high risk (and perhaps illegal) project and teach something positive to our youngsters instead of the negative lesson that money can buy everything even endangered mammals, fish and animals.
Does anybody else agree with this guy? I'd pick a ship wreck with a healthy coral reef ecosystem and many different species over a whale shark languishing in a glass prison anyday!

Expert view: Sharks are just not meant to be hunted

Here's a very good and concise explanation on why sharks shouldn't be commercially exploited.

by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
The Guardian, Tuesday November 11 2008

In some coastal parts of the world shark is a traditional part of the local fish diet. But pursuing them with modern fishing vessels can only lead to their rapid demise. Despite their astonishing success as a species - they've been around unchanged since the time of dinosaurs - they have a flaw in their otherwise perfect evolutionary design. Unlike most other fish, which produce vast numbers of eggs, and swim in huge shoals, sharks are just not meant to be hunted.

Rather, their place in nature is at the top of the food chain. That's why they are slow growers, who lay small numbers of eggs - or in some cases, such as the spurdog, give birth to live young. Start killing the adult breeding stock and numbers will soon crash to a tipping point. That's why extinction is a very real risk of commercially targeting certain species of shark.
Also see the Guardian's Sharks under threat gallery, and accompanying article Sharks and rays off UK shores critically endangered and facing extinction.

Basking shark feeding on plankton in the Atlantic Ocean. Basking sharks have small teeth and use their gills to collect food. Basking sharks are the world's second largest fish and listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shark fin is toxic!

The Environmental Defense Fund's seafood selector lists Shark as an eco-worst choice. It states:

If you decide to eat it, we recommend the following due to elevated mercury levels:

  • Women should not eat at all
  • Men should eat no more than 1 meal per month
  • Kids up to age 12 should not eat at all

Mercury enters streams, rivers, lakes and oceans primarily through rain and surface water runoff. Bacteria can then convert it to an organic form called methylmercury -- the form that is dangerous to people. When small fish with low mercury levels get eaten by bigger fish, the amount of mercury biomagnifies. For this reason, long-lived fish and top-level predators like swordfish and shark often have the highest mercury levels.

Mercury targets the nervous system and kidneys. Developing fetuses, infants and young children are at the highest risk from mercury exposure, since their brains and nervous systems are still forming. Fetuses can absorb mercury directly across the placenta, and nursing infants can get it from their mother's breast milk.

Children exposed to mercury before birth may exhibit problems with mental development and coordination, including how they think, learn and problem-solve later in life.

Mercury exposure can also harm adults. Symptoms can include numbness, burning or tingling of the extremities (lips, fingers, toes); fatigue; weakness; irritability; shyness; loss of memory and coordination; tremors; and changes in hearing and blurred vision. Extremely high mercury levels can permanently damage an adult's brain and kidneys, or even lead to circulatory failure.

That is terrible! I wonder if the people who want to help their parents save "face" at their weddings are aware that they are instead exposing all their relatives and friends to toxic chemicals.

This Shark Fact List goes further to state:

The legal limit for consumption of methyl-mercury, set by the EPA, is 0.1 microgram per kilogram of body weight. Studies have shown shark meat contains as much as 1,400 micrograms of methyl-mercury in one kilogram. A person weighing 155 lbs would therefore get 50 times the legal amount in one single portion of shark steak.
Sounds "delicious" indeed.

Whale sharks at Sentosa Resorts World

In case you don't know they want to put whale sharks at the new oceanarium at Sentosa Resorts World. This is expected to be completed in the next year so we have to do something about it soon!

From the Resorts World Sentosa website: "The Marine Life Park is set to be the world’s largest oceanarium, with 700,000 fishes. The oceanarium programme offers guests the chance to admire dolphins up close, or dive with and feed menacing tiger sharks."

You have to question their commitment to conservation simply from this statement.

Whale sharks at Sentosa IR? Bad move, say activists
Resorts World promises 'top-class' care as animal welfare groups raise issue
Ang Yiying, Straits Times 29 Aug 08;

The Singapore Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the Nature Society of Singapore and the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) had objected publicly to the plan when Resorts World at Sentosa unveiled it in 2006.

Whale sharks can grow to 12m long and possibly up to 20m.

Acres executive director Louis Ng said: “They shouldn’t gamble on the lives of whale sharks.”

...Nature Society of Singapore president Shawn Lum said there was no wide consensus that keeping these whale sharks in captivity was good conservation strategy.

There has been no sign of official disapproval of Resorts World’s move.

Of course no official disapproval lah, come on there's money to be made for the tourism industry. They probably think Singaporeans will just roll over and lay down on this issue like with many others.

Singapore Airlines' shark fin stand

It has been widely spread in Singapore that Singapore International Airlines had stopped serving shark's fin on their flights since 2001 in view of conservation.

Isn't it a bit strange then that FairTrade SG found this on their website.


In one of the most competitive shark’s fin markets in the world, Ping’s restaurant’s reputation for exceptional shark’s fin dishes places it as one of the best dining experiences in Bangkok.

Singaporean owner/chef Mr. Saetia Hung Ping has had more than 45 years of experience in the industry. Personally handpicking only the finest shark’s fins, the chef conjures a wide variety of seafood and Teochew cuisine.
As long as businesses have money to make they cannot be depended upon to take a stand on conservation. We need to stop buying this ridiculous dish! The lack of demand is the only thing that will make a real difference.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Shark attacks in perspective

A lot of people I talk to seem to think that sharks are evil and just like to bite people for fun so they don't feel any guilt about the inhumane and wasteful way sharks are being slaughtered.

Here are some statistics that will hopefully change the way you view shark attacks.

  • There is a far greater chance of winning a national lottery than of being attacked by a shark.
  • According to figures published by the New York City Health Department, for every person around the world bitten by a shark, 25 people are actually bitten by New Yorkers.
  • A study on one Australian beach, which teems with sharks, revealed that only one out of every 30 million bathers is attacked by a shark.
  • A great many more people are injured or killed on land while driving to and from the beach than by sharks in the water.
  • More than 6 times as many people are struck by lightning every year in Florida (one of the world's shark attack hotspots) than are attacked by sharks.

Perhaps the most shocking statistic of all - and this really puts things into perspective - is that, in an average year, for every person killed by a shark, we in turn kill many millions of sharks.

From the Shark-watcher's Handbook by Mark Carwardine (a zoologist, presenter of the BBC program Nature, and author of Last Chance to See) and Ken Watterson (research scientist and Churchill Fellow, and founder of the Basking Shark Society).

Friday, November 14, 2008

'Jaws' author became shark conservationist

Excerpts from Peter Benchley's obituary article in 2006.

Peter Benchley, 65; 'Jaws' Author Became Shark Conservationist
By Valerie J. Nelson, February 13, 2006 in print edition B-11

Benchley, who became a conservationist and expressed regret over portraying sharks as killing machines, died Saturday of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive and fatal scarring of the lungs, at his home in Princeton, N.J., his wife, Wendy, said.

The movie became one of the top-10 grossing films of all time, when adjusted for inflation, according to Box Office Mojo, a website that tracks theatrical receipts. It also caused ocean-goers to be terrified of even dipping a toe into the sea.

“Jaws” was “entirely fiction,” Peter Benchley repeated in a London Daily Express article that appeared last week.

“Knowing what I know now, I could never write that book today,” said Benchley, who also co-wrote the screenplay for “Jaws.” “Sharks don’t target human beings, and they certainly don’t hold grudges.”

In recent years, Benchley became an active advocate for shark protection. He campaigned against shark fisheries and traveled around the world to make undersea documentaries that had him swimming with sharks and whales. He also lectured on marine conservation.

His final book, the nonfiction “Shark Life” (2005), was aimed at educating young readers about the dangers of the sea.

Near the end of his life, Benchley expressed a revisionist take on his tale of ocean-going terror to the Daily Express. “I hope that ‘Jaws’ will have brought sharks into the public interest at a time when we desperately need to reevaluate our care for the environment,” he said.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shark's fin: Singapore takes a much bigger bite

Excerpts from a Straits Times article earlier this year.

Consumption jumped from 182 tonnes in 2006 to over 470 tonnes last year
Jermyn Chow, Straits Times 10 May 08.

AFTER four years of decline, the consumption of shark's fin spiked last year, with more than 470 tonnes eaten despite pleas from environmental groups for consumers to cut down.

'Globally, there are fewer sharks in our waters that can be hunted now, so naturally prices go up,' said Mr Dennis Yio, director of Chin Guan Hong (Sharksfin), Singapore's biggest shark's fin supplier.

If even the suppliers are confirming this information shouldn't we be doing something about it? The businesses obviously won't because they'll continue to make money if the prices go up!

Hotels, including the Orchard Hotel and the Mandarin Oriental, also say shark's fin remains one of their most popular dishes at their Chinese restaurants and wedding banquets.'Most of the couples' parents consider this dish a premium and without it, they would lose face,' said Mandarin Oriental's communications director Ruth Soh.

Still, the hotel ensures that the fins it buys are only from fish farms, and not those that are harvested in the wild, or 'finned', she added.
Shark farms? Where got such thing one!

Just this week, the Singapore Environment Council and international conservation group WildAid renewed their calls for people to slice their shark's fin intake, adding that globally, between 40 million and 70 million sharks get killed for their fins each year. Environmental groups say about one-third of shark species in the world - some 126 - are classified as being at risk of extinction or critically endangered.

That message is sinking in for some. There are couples who insist on alternatives to shark's fin soup at their wedding dinners, hotels admit, and at least two airlines - Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways International - stopped serving shark's fin on their flights in 2001.
Why would some people rather spend money on marketing and illusions of "high-class" living than NOT spend money and save our environment? Feeding the people is one thing; feeding a myth or one’s ego is another thing entirely.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Enter the sharkman!

Hello everybody, since this is my first post I think I should introduce myself a bit. I watched the documentary Sharkwater at Post-Museum last week and I was shocked by what is happening around the world. Did you know that the demand for sharks fin soup is causing up to a 90% population decline in some shark species?

Being a diver myself and a lover of the marine environment I think we should try to let everybody know about this. I hope this blog will provide useful information and updates about how we can help before this wonderful big fish totally disappears forever!

Thanks to a few generous friends we have many things in the pipeline for the next few weeks which will slowly appear on the blog. So stay tuned!