African sharks threatened by finning

Hammerhead caught in a longlineShark fin sup is considered a delicacy in Asia. Shark’s fin is “regarded as a tonic food and an aphrodisiac, the Chinese believe shark’s fin strengthens the internal organs and retard aging,” explains a recipe. The sharks that supply their trademark body parts to this dish are caught using longlines. Fishermen then cut off the desirable dorsal fin and toss the wounded shark back in the ocean.

In Mozambique and other parts of Africa, Asian business men offer poor local fishermen money for fins and so create a market for this very wasteful fishery. For hundreds of years these fishermen depended on the ocean to feed their families often utilizing sharks as a food source and had a low impact that was sustainable. Today traditional fishing is becoming unsustainable due to huge numbers of foreign flagged boats raping the coast lines of these poor countries to catch sharks for their fins as well as other threatened species such as billfish, turtles etc. The result is starving families not able to catch their daily meal whilst just a few miles offshore large numbers of sharks are stripped of their fins and dumped back into the ocean.

What is needed is a immediate ban on shark longlining off the South African coastline as well as the Mozambiquean coastline and declaring sharks a no take species. The future of sharks as well as other species hangs in the balance if rapid action is not taken. If South Africa and Mozambique lead the way and the benefits can be seen countries such as Tanzania, Namibia, Angola, Kenya and others will follow suit.
‘Air Jaws’ Photographers Make Desperate Plea for South Africa’s Dwindling Shark Population – Underwater Times, December 11, 2005

via divesouthafrica
Finning a shark is a cruel and wasteful practice per se. But these fishermen are also plundering a precious marine resources along the coast that has great potential. In South Africa, shark diving is a huge tourism industry. The reefs off of St. Lucia and Sodwana boast over a dozen species, and all day boats take divers out to encounter these fascinating creatures.

Interestingly the shark fin cartilage used in the soup has no taste whatsoever – itmerely supplies a supposedly interesting texture to the soup.

Boycott shark fin soup.

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