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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.