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Thursday, April 30, 2009

January Jones is scared FOR sharks

January uses an anchored rope to stabilize herself as she encounters Caribbean reef sharks for the first time.

January Jones, best known for her role on the hit series Mad Men, had teamed up with Oceana to promote a campaign to protect sharks. The actress is working with the org as a spokesperson to help pass The Shark Conservation Act in Congress — which would implement stronger protection for sharks by requiring that sharks be landed whole with the fins still attached to the bodies. The Federal legislation would also allow the U.S. to take action against countries whose shark finning requirements are not consistent with those in the United States.

More about the Scared FOR Sharks campaign here and here!

Project AWARE Foundation Securing Shark Protection

Great! This Community Plan of Action (CPOA) for Sharks is a long time coming and more countries should follow up with their own plans.
Project AWARE Foundation Securing Shark Protection
Project AWARE website

Project AWARE Foundation recently joined fellow Shark Alliance members in Brussels to mark the release of the European Commission’s long awaited Community Plan of Action (CPOA) for Sharks and comment on its provisions. The plan, covering sharks and all cartilaginous fish, has potential to provide a comprehensive framework for change, encouraging science based catch limits, the protection of endangered species and the revision of EU shark finning regulation.

The UK Minister confirmed his commitment saying: “I strongly support the shark action plan. We must do everything we can to protect vulnerable species and ensure that stocks are exploited sustainably. Better science and information gathering are fundamental to the plan’s success. The UK will continue to work with the Commission, conservation groups and the fishing industry to ensure that this plan produces robust, workable and effective measures to protect and sustainably manage shark stocks.

The CPOA for Sharks represents a significant step in the right direction for shark conservation and sustainable management, but it will only be effective if Member States act with a sense of urgency and commit to a robust timetable of implementation. Project AWARE considers the publication of the plan of action as the start of a long campaign to secure a sustainable future for sharks.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Korean vessels fined for illegal fishing

Korean vessels fined for illegal fishing
April 29 2009 at 08:37PM,

The captain and first officer of two Korean-flagged ships have been sentenced to a fine of R500 000 or five years in prison each for contravening their permit conditions, environment officials said on Wednesday.

The crew of the MFV Oryong 371 and the MFV Oryong 373 were found guilty of contravening the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998.

"A total of 667kg undeclared shark fins was also confiscated. They omitted the fact that they had shark fins on the vessel from their permits."

The vessel was also found guilty of illegally off-loading 18,1 tons of fish from one vessel to another.

The MFV Oryong 373 off-loaded 389kg of shark fin, more than the limit stipulated on its permit.

Moses said the crew of both vessels cut shark fins from the trunks and threw the bodies back into the water - in contravention of international fishing conservation measures.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blue Sharks Of Hawaii - Sad Reality

Blue sharks are the most commonly fished shark for shark fin soup. Because they have populations all over the world, it is widely thought that they are not affected by the massive scale of shark fishing and finning but it's not true!
Blue Sharks Of Hawaii ~ Sad Reality
by Katie Grove-Velasquez, Writer, Marine Animal Researcher, Photographer, Educator, and Lecturer Working in the Hawaiian Islands, Zoo and Aquarium Visitor

Fishing globally is taking our shark populations down at a rapid rate, even in Hawaii. According to Gerald Crow, who wrote Sharks & Rays of Hawaii, thousands of sharks lose their lives every year to the fishing industry and show up in the marketplace. Sharks are not a protected specie in Hawaii and many other places worldwide. According to the IUCN, over 50% of the global shark species are critically endangered.

According to researchers, if this fishing industry is allowed to continue, in addition to the finning industry, which takes over 100 MILLION sharks annually, our oceans have less than 100 years before they collapse. If this is true, we are all in dire trouble. In Hawaii alone, from 1991 to 1999, nearly 900,000 sharks were killed for the marketplace. These were mostly blue,mako and thresher sharks. The style of fishing was long-lining, which is famous for indiscriminate taking of turtles, marine mammals, and many others.

What do we do? First, we need to all educate ourselves. Go to reliable websites and become armed with information. Boycott restaurants that serve shark fin soup, and tell them why. Physically go in to the restaurant, check the menu, and tell the management you will return when that item is removed, and walk out. Write letters to your local newspapers. Blog about it. Protest in your area and ceaselessly put pressure to pass laws for shark protection. Our children, our future depends on it. The time is now.

A new international push to save dwindling shark populations

A new international push to save dwindling shark populations
April 28th, 2009, By Melissa Segrest, kabc-TV Los Angeles, CA

The world’s shark population is dropping rapidly, and the primary reasons are humans’ increasing hunger for both a Chinese delicacy and an alternative medicine: shark fins.

Shark fins are prized as a key ingredient in costly shark-fin soup favored by the Chinese around the world.

The U.S. has had a shark-finning prohibition since 2000, but that law will be strengthened with the introduction of the Shark Conservation Act of 2009 by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) last week. Rep. Madeline Bordallo of Guam has already introduced similar legislation in Congress, and that bill received unanimous approval.

The older law contained loopholes that at least one American ship took advantage of when they were discovered carrying the fins of about 30,000 sharks. They appealed on the basis that they were a “transport” ship, not a “fishing” vessel, a distinction specified in the earlier law’s language.

The new legislation will close that loophole, along with a ban on importing any shark products that come from countries without shark conservation efforts.

Of the 591 shark and ray species examined by an international group of conservation scientists, 21 percent are “threatened with extinction” and 18 percent have “near-threatened” status, according to the Pew group. The difficult task of tracking so many shark species likely misses about 35 percent of the shark and ray population, researchers say.

One species, the dusky shark, has declined in population off America’s East Coast by more than 80 percent since the ‘70s, and will take about 400 years to rebuild, according to the Pew group.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Whale shark rescued by Cagayan fisherfolk

Great work from the Philippines! It's essential for governments to realise that these amazing creatures are worth much much more alive than dead and they need to be protected.
Whale shark rescued by Cagayan fisherfolk
April 27, 2009, 4:52pm, Manila Bulletin

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan — Local officials and residents of Buguey town in this province rescued an endangered whale shark or butanding last week.

Buguey Municipal Secretary Arthur Pagador said the whale shark, measuring about 7 meters in length and weighing about 2 tons, was found entangled in a beach seine (daklis) along the shore of Barangay Centro West Saturday.

After an hour or so, the whale shark was freed and was able to return towards the deeper portions of the sea.

“It is very fortunate that the fishermen made a move to save the animal instead of kill it,” Pagador said.

Sec. 97 of RA 8550 and Fisheries Administrative Order 193 prohibits the catching of whale sharks and manta rays. Violation to the law carries 6 months to 4 years imprisonment as penalty.

Old folks in the coastal areas say whale sharks used to abound in great quantities but indiscriminate fishing might have drove them off. BFAR Regional Director Jovita Ayson said that recent sightings might be an indication of the re-emergence of whale shark population in Cagayan waters.

Recently, the fisheries bureau in the region initiated a briefing among members of the Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee Sub-committee on Fishing and Marine Environmental Protection on the proper rescue procedure on stranded marine mammals to include whale sharks and other rare and threatened species, as part of the activities under the Region 02 Marine Mammal Stranding Network. (Max Prudencio, BFAR R02).

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Say, 'No', to shark fin soup

An article for Westerners who've never heard about shark fin soup! What we consume mindlessly and take for granted is really worth a second thought guys.
Say, 'No', to shark fin soup
April 26, 12:01 AM, Stan Dyer, Denver Dining Examiner

To acquire fins, shark fishermen string long lines with many hooks in international waters. Since sharks need to keep moving to breathe, many die on the hooks before being “harvested”, yet some are captured alive. It does not matter. The animals, alive or dead, are pulled aboard the ship where the fins are removed and whatever is left is dumped back into the ocean. If the animal is still alive, it cannot swim, so it sinks to the bottom of the ocean and drowns.

The tragedy is that all the fishermen are after are the fins, the rest of the animal has no use to them. All they want from the fins is the cartilage used to make the soup. The rest is discarded as waste. In that respect, it is similar to the harvesting of buffalo skins in America in the 19th century, the killing of gorillas for souvenirs, and the slaughter of elephants just for their tusks.

Sharks are a very important part of the ocean ecosystem. Reducing their numbers or eliminating them completely can adversely affect the entire food chain.
People who eat excessive amounts, or eat the product continually over a period of years will experience elevated levels of the poison in their bodies and eventually suffer mercury poisoning.

Whether you oppose the consumption of animals, or you are just looking to limit your exposure to toxic chemicals from the environment, it is a good idea to avoid shark fin soup and to limit the consumption of all fish or fish products harvested from the sea.

Whale sharks all closely related, says study

Whale sharks all closely related, says study
Nicolette Craig, Practical fishkeeping

Whale shark (Picture: Christoph Scheutzenhofer, Creative Commons)

A new study has discovered that whale sharks around the world are all related which puts them at risk from overfishing.

Until recently, it wasn’t known if overfishing in some areas would affect overall whale shark populations as no one knew if the sharks were migratory or if they tended to stay in their own territories.

Although this species is listed in Appendix II of CITES, and with strict quotas in place, the financial gains for anyone exceeding their quota far outweigh the potential fines and consequences.

Lead scientist Jennifer Schmidt said: “Our data show that whale sharks found in different oceans are genetically quite similar, which means that animals move and interbreed between populations.

“From a conservation standpoint, it means that whale sharks in protected waters cannot be assumed to stay in those waters, but may move into areas where they may be in danger."

"The only real threat to whale sharks is us. To design proper conservation plans, we need to understand the sharks' lifestyle. We can only protect their habitat if we know what habitat they use."

Schmidt hopes that more countries will close whale shark fisheries and place more effort into alternatives such as ecotourism programs.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Texas lawmakers OK mercury warnings

They should do that eveywhere. Especially in Singapore where people are thinking of bringing their wives and mothers for shark fin for Mother's Day, crazy!
Texas lawmakers OK mercury warnings
By JACKIE STONE, April 20, 2009, 6:48PM,

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas fish sellers would have to warn pregnant women about the risks of eating some kinds of mercury laden fish under a proposal given initial approval from the Texas House Monday.

The signs would explain that some fish and shellfish — especially large fish such as swordfish and shark — may contain mercury, which can cause birth defects.

The bill's author, Houston Democrat Rep. Jessica Farrar, said mercury can cause learning disabilities, and problems with hearing and eyesight.

"We wanna make sure that people eat the right fish. This is just a sign for certain populations to stay away from certain kinds of fish," Farrar said.

"During fetal development, mercury definitely crosses over the placenta," she said. "It can result in low birth rate, severe mental retardation, cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness and seizures."

The bill was approved 99-45. It faces a final vote in the House before it can head to the Senate.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rally against shark fin trade opens in Singapore

Check out the photos on the facebook event here!
Rally against shark fin trade opens in Singapore
Apr 18, 2009, AFP

SINGAPORE (AFP) — Animal rights activists launched a campaign in Singapore Saturday against the consumption of shark fin, a status symbol when served at Chinese wedding banquets and dinners.

A large banner bearing the slogan "when sharks die, the oceans die" was displayed at a nearby park close to Singapore's business district.

Louis Ng, ACRES's executive director and founder, told 100 supporters that more than 3,800 sharks were caught every 20 minutes to meet global demand for shark fin, pushing many shark species towards extinction.

"Let us not only say no to shark fins but let us also be advocates for sharks and tell people why we do not, and will not, eat them," Ng said.

One of ACRES's supporters at the rally, physiotherapist Chng Chye Tuan, said he and his wife-to-be had decided against offering shark fin soup to guests at their wedding next month, despite opposition from both sets of parents.

"You can see the impact that humans are having on the ecosystem. The variety of fish is not as much as before," said Chng, referring to observations he had made during diving trips.

Save the whale shark. And say a prayer

That is great! If only it worked in Singapore. Too bad most Singaporeans only worship money lol.
Save the whale shark. And say a prayer
Wild Notebook: the ingenious methods of the Wildlife Trust for India
April 18, 2009, We tend to think of wildlife conservation as a particularly British thing: something that we must somehow seek to impose on the barbaric foreigners. We must make them see the light, must we not? But this is not the way it works at all.

I was constantly blown away by the Indian partner (of Wildlife Trust for India): an organisation light on its feet, punching above its weight and constantly solving Indian problems in a wholly Indian way.

Take the whale shark campaign. Fishermen were catching these, the biggest fish on the planet, simply for their livers, which were used for waterproofing boats. And while there was a very solid education campaign, and the Government was successfully lobbied to establish legal protection, the decisive moment came with the involvement of the holy man Morari Bapu.

Morari Bapu considered the matter and then declared that the whale shark was a god. The fish was nothing less than the first avatar of Vishnu. The slaying of the whale shark, Morari Bapu declared, was not fishing but deicide.

The killing was stopped at a stroke, and the great gods of the sea cruise off the coast of India, filter-feeding as they go, unmolested by the devout.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

World’s fisheries in crisis as more boats chase smaller stock

World’s fisheries in crisis as more boats chase smaller stock
April 15, 2009, Times Online

Nearly half the world’s fishing catch is either thrown back dead or sold without regard to whether the fish stock is endangered, according to a report released today.

Every year more than 38 million tonnes of marine life is taken from the sea without having been the intended target of the fishing vessels.

Traditional fishery management plans focus only on target species, leaving bycatch species heavily exploited and without any scientific control or monitoring.

The world’s fish stocks are in crisis: 80 per cent of the world’s fisheries are either fully exploited or overexploited and an estimated 90 per cent of all large predatory fish are gone.

Data from trawlers from 46 countries were sampled, along with two global fisheries, shark fin and tuna. At a bycatch rate of 92 per cent the shark fin industry topped the league. The shrimp fisheries of Bangladesh came out worst with over 95 per cent of the catch made up of non-target species.

Satisfying your taste buds in China

Nice to see some pro-active people making the effort to save sharks! After all shark fin is just food. It's not even a staple food. Shark fin costs the entire ecosystem and that's way more than we can pay in dollars.

Satisfying your taste buds in China
04-14-2009 14:49, CCTV International

BEIJING, April 13 (Xinhuanet) -- When thinking of some fine dining experience, China comes to mind! The country offers great cuisines of the world cooked in myriad ways. You can find world's best platter on table in China and dine on foods you have ever eaten anywhere.

Had it not for Mr Zhang, an overseas Chinese, who called the Aquatic Wildlife Protection Center (Guangzhou), the nurse shark would have found its place on the luxurious food menu of the China restaurants.

A Guangzhou restaurant had invited more than 70 clients to dine on a nurse shark on March 18. As the stage was set for the grand banquet, Mr Zhang informed the protection center and was even ready himself to donate ten thousand yuan to save the animal. The environmentalists intervened and recovered the nurse shark after shelling out 130 thousand yuan. The shark was kept for ornamental use for some time.

But due to the deteriorating health of the shark because of lack of quality water and food, it was not immediately released in the ocean. Guangzhou Ocean World provided the animal free medical service and kept the shark in a little pool during the observation. The shark was released a few days ago in the seawaters.

China has so much to serve to satisfy food cravings of people from across the world and the shark incident cannot cause much of the exuberance about the Chinese delicacies to evaporate.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Palau must not open its waters to commercial shark fishing

Bad news from Palau, they are looking at passing a bill that will effectively allowed their shark populations to be destroyed and ruin their tourism industry. Read more about the bill here. And please sign the petition!
Palau must not open its waters to commercial shark fishing
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 10:07 ,

At a time that the Maldives is banning shark fishing and becoming a model for other nations, Palau is moving backward.

A bill is now moving through the legislative process in Palau that will significantly weaken its previously strong shark fishing laws.

Tourism is Palau's largest industry, representing 66% of GDP. Palau is an important destination for divers who know that sharks are protected, there. A few years of increased taxes from foreign vessels until the sharks are depleted cannot possibly add up to much when they put tourism and their marine ecosystem at risk.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

MEGAMOUTH SHARK: Ultra-Rare Shark Found, Eaten

What is up with us people, why must we put everything we find in our mouths! For all we know it could have been one of the last of its kind. Why like that!
MEGAMOUTH SHARK: Ultra-Rare Shark Found, Eaten
April 7, 2009, National Geographic

In just a short time, one of the rarest sharks in the world went from swimming in Philippine waters to simmering in coconut milk.

The 13-foot-long (4-meter-long) megamouth shark (pictured), caught on March 30 by mackerel fishers off the city of Donsol, was only the 41st megamouth shark ever found, according to WWF-Philippines.

Fishers brought the odd creature—which died during its capture—to local project manager Elson Aca of WWF, an international conservation nonprofit. Aca immediately identified it as a megamouth shark and encouraged the fishers not to eat it. But the draw of the delicacy was too great: The 1,102-pound (500-kilogram) shark was butchered for a shark-meat dish called kinuout.

"While it is sad that this rare megamouth shark was ultimately lost, the discovery highlights the incredible biodiversity found in the Donsol area and the relatively good health of the ecosystem," Yokelee Lee, WWF-US program officer for the Coral Triangle, said in an email.

"It is essential that we continue working with the government and local community on the sustainable management of Donsol's fisheries resources for the benefit of whale sharks, megamouth sharks, and the local community," Lee said.

Other shark species in Donsol are valued for conservation rather than consumption: The region hosts a successful ecotourism project that allows people to swim with whale sharks.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Shark fin out of vogue among young Asians

Good news, but the trend is taking too long! We need to spread the word guys... otherwise the sharks will still die out before all the shark fin lovers do. I wonder when we can all act like educated, civilised people and recognise the effects of our shark fin demand on the ecosystem!

Shark fin out of vogue among young Asians
March 29, 2009, Scientific American

TAIPEI/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singaporean groom Han Songguang took his
campaign to stop consumption of one of Asia's top delicacies to a new level when he placed postcards of a dead shark on each guest's seat at his own wedding banquet.

Instead of shark's fin soup, a must at many ethnic Chinese wedding banquets, Han offered his guests lobster soup.

"If we can do our part to save 'X' number of sharks ... why not?" said Han, a geography teacher, who married a diving enthusiast in December.

Wildlife conservationists, who have long railed against the popularity of shark fin soup, are finally seeing signs that consumption is dropping as young Asians become aware of the environmental impact of this much prized dish.

"Today we have incredible access to information. It has become much harder to say 'I didn't know'," said Glenn Sant, marine program leader of the British wildlife group TRAFFIC. He urged young Asians to take a stand and say: "'It shouldn't be an insult not to put shark fin on our wedding menu.'"

Tastes have changed along with awareness for young Asians. Shang-kuan Liang-chi, a National Taiwan University student who has tried the crunchy jelly-like dish twice at formal events, prefers other food and avoids a shark fin restaurant near campus. "University students never go in there," he said.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Shark-fin traders thrive in UAE

Shark-fin traders thrive in UAE
UAE - APR. 09,

Gourmands like them in soup, doctors prescribe them as cures and dealers trade them to get rich. That is why fishermen continue to flout the law and indiscriminately kill, maim and then discard as many sharks as they can catch. The fins are almost as good as gold.

In the UAE, where shark finning is illegal, traders nonetheless are increasingly exploiting the eastern and northern coasts of the country because of the lack of policing and local regulations, marine agencies have warned.

They say shark finning in this region has increased over the past decade because of the insatiable Far Eastern demand for the fins, improved fishing technology and traders looking for a profit. One pound of shark fins has a street value of US$300 (Dh1,100).

According to the last report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, in 2004, the UAE counts for around eight per cent of global shark fin exports.

“There were six to seven boats at around 4.40pm hauling sharks off,” said Daniel Hawkings, a South African diver who spends every weekend in the northern and eastern emirates. “By the end, the beach was covered with the sharks who were hauled off one by one to be finned.”

It takes only low levels of finning over extended periods to get rid of the majority of reef-associated species, as well as the larger, longer-lived varieties.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tesco Gains Shark Fin Conscience

Good news from Thailand! Singapore's supermarket stores should do the same!
Tesco Gains Shark Fin Conscience
6 April 2009, Shark Trust Press Release

In October 2008 the Shark Trust was alerted by concerned divers that Tesco stores in Thailand were selling shark products including shark fin. Following a meeting in late March with Tesco senior staff the Shark Trust is pleased to confirm that Tesco have withdrawn shark fin from sale in their Thai stores.

“The shark fin trade encourages unsustainable mortality and unacceptable levels of waste and it is imperative that large retailers like Tesco appreciate the impact of the fin trade on shark populations,” said Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust. “The Trust has met with Tesco and presented a compelling case for the cessation of sale of shark fin in their stores, we see Tesco’s agreement to cease the sale of fins in their Thailand stores as a promising start.”

Studies demonstrate that up to three quarters* of the fins entering the fin trade originate from unreported sources, likely from sharks which have been finned: the fins removed and carcasses dumped over board, often still alive. It is the sheer extent of the shark finning activities that make it near impossible to trace the provenance of fins back to managed fisheries, meaning shark fin products sold by large retailers are highly likely to have come from unmanaged or illegal fisheries.

Asian demand behind falling shark populations

Before and after. How illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the shark fin is affecting Australian and international waters.
Illegal fishing still a problem
Wednesday, 08 April 2009, Australian Institute of Marine Science

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which is devastating delicate ecosystems and fish breeding grounds in waters to Australia’s north, can no longer be managed effectively by individual nations and now requires an urgent regional solution if food security into the future is to be maintained, according to a new scientific report.

To date, these IUU fishers have focused mostly on high-value sharks mainly for the fin trade, to the extent that the abundance of some shark species has dropped precipitously.

He said that IUU fishing, which has devastated fish resources and their associated ecosystems throughout Southeast Asian waters, was driven by deep economic and societal forces. For example, the Asian economic crisis in the late 1990s drove a large number of people out of cities and into illegal fishing.

It was not enough to maintain just a national response as the problem crossed national maritime zones, he said, and posed one of the biggest threats known to marine ecosystems throughout the region.

"These IUU fishers are mining protein," Dr Meekan said. "There is no regard to sustainability or factoring in fish breeding or ecosystem protection."

Asian demand behind falling shark populations: report
November 20, 2008, AFP

Asian demand for shark fin soup is pushing the animal's population in the wild to new lows, the Australian government and a wildlife trade monitoring group said in a report released on Wednesday.

The report found that while more than one-fifth of shark species were already threatened with extinction, a lack of government control on overfishing and the problem of illegal fishing were further depleting the animal's numbers.

"The main reason for most of the shark catches around the world is the shark fin feeding into the Asian market," Sant said. "We are not against the trade in shark fin, but what we are against is the over exploitation of shark." Sant said the report's case study on Australia noted "enormous amounts of illegal vessels fishing in Australian waters and huge amounts of shark fin being taken".

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cruelty on the wedding menu

This is quite an old article, but I've never posted it before I think.

This Ruth Soh is so full of shit, shark farm sia she must really have no idea what she's talking about. If there were shark farms then why would people bother poaching in foreign waters?

People like Ruth and Janet make Singaporeans look stupid and backward. So embarassing!

Cruelty on the wedding menu
May 12, 2008 WA Today

Shark's fin consumption more than doubled in Singapore last year from 2006, with demand driven by an economic boom and an increase in wedding celebrations, a report said today.

Singapore consumed more than 470 tonnes in 2007, up from 182 tonnes the previous year and reversing a four-year decline, the Straits Times reported.

Shark's fin soup is popular at Chinese wedding banquets, where it is seen as a status symbol.

"Most of the couple's parents consider this dish a premium and without it, they would lose face," Ruth Soh, communications director at the Mandarin Oriental, told the newspaper. She said however that the hotel buys shark's fin only from fish farms.

Housewife Janet Gan was quoted as saying: "Shark's fin is a must at a wedding. It is like a birthday cake."

But Michael Aw, a marine conservationist, said more than 30 sharks have to be killed to feed a wedding banquet with 300 guests, according to the report.

"We must continue to educate the younger generation and make them see that sharks are guardians of the sea that ensure a balance in the food chain," Aw said.

The message is not lost to Melanie Tan, who will walk down the aisle next month. "I don't want to be part of the cruel act of killing sharks just to make others satisfied on my wedding day," she was quoted as saying.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Low Genetic Differentiation across Three Major Ocean Populations of the Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus

Low Genetic Differentiation across Three Major Ocean Populations of the Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus
Posted on: April 6, 2009 10:26 PM, by Coturnix,

Whale sharks are a declining species for which little biological data is available. While these animals are protected in many parts of their range, they are fished legally and illegally in some countries.

We have shown only low levels of genetic differentiation between geographically distinct whale shark populations. Existing satellite tracking data have revealed both regional and long-range migration of whale sharks throughout their range, which supports the finding of gene flow between populations.

Whale sharks traverse geographic and political boundaries during their life history and interbreed with animals from distant populations; conservation efforts must therefore target international protection for this species.

Man fined R1.5m for shark fins

Serve you right! But if they are willing to risk such a high fine there's obviously a lot of money in poaching sharks for their fins. Stop eating shark fin! You are adding value to illegal activity! This guy went all the way from Taiwan to Africa to get shark fin, can you imagine how much the mark up cost is.

Man fined R1.5m for shark fins
06/04/2009 14:16 - (SA)

Cape Town - The skipper of a Taiwanese fishing vessel has paid a R1.5m fine for contravening permit conditions, the department of environment affairs said on Monday.

This was the highest fine ever imposed for such a transgression, the department said.
The Chien Jui number 102 was seized in Cape Town harbour two weeks ago, and law enforcement authorities confiscated more than 1.6 tons of dried shark fin and 5.1 tons of shark carcasses from it.

The fine was for contravening permit conditions for foreign vessels entering the South African exclusive economic zone.

The number of fins did not match the number of shark bodies, and the discrepancy was beyond "tolerance" limits.

Tourism in Bicol rides high above global recession

Singapore is so greedy. We don't have whale sharks then too bad why must we steal from other countries! Leave the whale sharks in the wild where they belong. It's so sad for a butanding to be in a tank in an aquarium.
Tourism in Bicol rides high above global recession, notes Escudero
Monday, 06 April 2009 20:17 Business Mirror

The whale-shark season starts in January and lasts until the end of the third quarter of the year, although the butanding, as the whale shark in known locally, could be sighted the throughout the year off the coastlines of municipalities straddling the Sorsogon Bay and Ticao Pass.

Visitors here take rented boats to where the whale sharks swim, and the more adventurous visitors are allowed to swim with the butanding.

The municipality is also preparing for the three-day Butanding Festival that starts on April 28. The festival features cultural dances, parades and fluvial processions as a way of giving thanks for the good life brought about the whale sharks.

The celebration’s main attraction, however, is eco-tourism, where visitors are taken by boats out in sea. Organized by trained tour operators and guides, the visitors are allowed to interact with the whale sharks.

The whale sharks have contributed significantly to tourism in the region. More than 1.3 million local and foreign tourist arrived in Bicol last year, Escudero said.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Indian Ocean tuna commission a failure - again

That's the point of having a commission if it's not going to do anything ah?
Indian Ocean tuna commission a failure - again
03 Apr 2009 Bali, Indonesia, WWF

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission – in the spotlight as some coastal fishers whose stocks it has failed to protect turn to piracy instead - is continuing in its unbroken record of failure to regulate one of the world's largest tuna fisheries.

The commission, which has just concluded its 13th meeting in Bali, failed to set catch limits for any of the fisheries it is supposed to be regulating, failed to agree any new measures to restrain rampant over-fishing, failed to set effective rules on shark finning and put off a much needed decision to reform itself.

The meeting also failed to make adequate progress on proposals to ban shark-finning by requiring sharks to be landed whole – with fins naturally attached - rather than with the existing limited restriction of having a whole shark to fins ratio of just five percent, making it hard to identify how many sharks of which potentially endangered species are being taken in what may be one of the most wasteful and unsustainable fisheries.

Other controversial measures were a failure to extend the high seas large scale drift net ban to coastal waters, deferring consideration of vital Catch Documentation Scheme improvements and failure to adopt a realistic observer program.

“Many member States appear to be operating on a hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil basis which supports continuing rampant non-compliance with even a lax management regime,” said Jorge. “No-one knows what is really going on, few seem to care, States report their catches late or not at all and the scientists that are supposed to be the cornerstone of the system are doing the best they can with the scraps of data they are given.”

SA's shark-whisperer

I'm not sure I agree with riding on the dorsal fin of a great white, but it definitely shows that they are not mindless killers!
SA's shark-whisperer
Fri, 03 Apr 2009 17:53, travel

Mike Rutzen dives with great white sharks — without a cage. While he isn’t the first to do it, he’s taken shark diving to a previously unimagined level. He does it not for fun, to win bets or for the adrenaline rush, but to prove a point. And the point is that great white sharks have a gentle side to their nature.

But he’s not an airhead hippy claiming sharks are harmless. He is fully aware that sharks in general — and great whites in particular — are fearsome predators. But, he insists, they don’t target humans. If they did, a person would be taken out at least once a day.

“When we get in the water, we’re the dumbest, slowest form of protein,” he says. But we don’t taste good. White sharks are extremely selective in their diet.”

Rutzen had an amazing interaction with a 4.5-metre great white. While he didn’t manage to get her into tonic, they bonded, achieving a level of trust that is hard to imagine. For about a minute, she towed him gently and slowly through the water while he held on to her dorsal fin.

“I’ve never ever in my life had an experience like that with such a big animal,” Rutzen says. “You realise how wonderful and powerful these animals are. You’re so in touch with the animal, you can feel every little thing. If the animal starts looking at you, you can feel how it’s banking its head and looking at you. We’ve just done the longest dorsal fin ride I’ve ever ridden. It’s surreal, it’s super-peaceful. It feels like you want to stay there.”