Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sanctuaries in Name Only?

No no no no!
Mark this day because for once, I do not at all agree with Patric!

Prescient my ass!
That letter is about as bad as it gets, and stupid to boot!

Of course Sanctuaries work!
Claiming otherwise is just plain stupid - and you sure don't need to go squandering resources for some big peer-reviewed paper to come to the conclusion that if Shark fishing is outlawed, an overriding portion of the fishermen will stop doing so!
Yes the stereotype of the ever-cheating fisherman is certainly grounded in experience - and still, that's undoubtedly the minority! The vast majority of the local fishers are law abiding citizens and will observe the new law once they have been made aware of the changes, promise!
And the foreigners, as in distant water fleets? That's more tricky, see below.

Which brings us straight to the enforcement.
No, it won't cost millions of dollars, and this is why.

What constitutes the "best" conservation strategy is always situation- and species specific.
Here we're talking about the pros and cons of Shark Sanctuaries, i.e. generally speaking places where  the commercial exploitation of Sharks  is banned - meaning that each and every landed or traded Shark or fin is illegal by definition, a fact that greatly simplifies enforcement when compared to management plans. 
We're also talking, at least until now, about small developing countries where everybody knows everybody, and where as a consequence, hiding one's activities, at least on land, is virtually impossible.

In a simplified way, we're usually dealing with two distinct fisheries.

A. Coastal fishery targeting coastal Sharks.

Obviously, one cannot monitor every coastal fisher.
But the good news is, we don't have to! What we want to tackle is the situation whereby coastal fishermen target Sharks commercially for their fins, thus catching many more than they would ever consume in a subsistence fishery.
Inevitably, those fins get sold to intermediaries who aggregate and often dry them, and then ship them to Asia. It is those fin traders that are the bottleneck in the supply chain and consequently, it is they who need to be targeted - which is easy and cheap as they are relatively few, everybody knows who they are and the activity all but impossible to hide.
And once the demand they represent has been eliminated, the fishermen will stop killing those surplus Sharks!

B. Offshore fishery targeting pelagic Sharks

That's quite a bit more tricky - but then again, maybe not so much.
Local vessels usually land their catch locally where it once again ends up with the fin dealers. Foreign distant water vessels on the other hand are inevitably declared to be Tuna vessels and operate on licenses - and at least here in the SoPac, this implies that they have to carry observers. Once one changes the mandate of those observers to not only monitor Tuna quotas but also prevent the retention of Sharks, much of that activity can be curtailed.

Will there be shenanigans?
Undoubtedly so, namely trans-shipment at sea and poaching, the latter especially in countries close to Asia like Palau where specialized poachers can dash in and back out - but overall, I am convinced that fishing and trading volumes will be greatly reduced compared to prior to the declaration of the Sanctuary!

In brief, by being smart, creative, efficient and effective, one can shut down or at least greatly limit Shark fishing and the fin trade with very little resources indeed! 
And this especially if the enforcement is backed by good prosecution and even more so, by draconian fines - see examples of legislation here, the example on page 14ff being the failed legislation for the Fiji Shark Sanctuary Decree which would have been the most exhaustive and stringent legislation at that time.
In fact this example from the Marshals shows that enforcement can even become financially self sustaining, and this on top of the financial benefits of good PR (= tourism) and a healthier ocean yielding more Fish! 

So no, these are not SINOs as numbers are undoubtedly down and enforcement is actually happening, and no there is no need to wait before declaring further sanctuaries!

And the alternative?
What about the properly designed, implemented, and enforced fisheries management plans that David advocates in this post that I encourage everybody to read?
In theory, I cannot but agree that this is by far the best long term solution.
In practice, however, it is just wishful thinking, at least when it comes to the developing word. It just aint gonna happen, at least not in the foreseeable future - and we just cannot afford to sit by idly and wait, hence the advocacy of sanctuaries and fin bans as stop gap measures!

The reason is obviously lack of resources.
Assuming that somebody could assist in designing them, David's perfect management plans would be extremely detailed and complicated, and because of that, the implementation and especially the monitoring and enforcement would become equally complicated and above all, extremely costly. As an example, a NPoA Sharks would have to encompass different rules for different species and possibly even regions and time frames. On top of being confusing for the fishermen, this would e.g. require the enforcers to differentiate between "legal" and "illegal" Sharks and fins, and this between species but often even within the same species (e.g. think region- or vessel-specific quotas) and opening up loopholes as big as barn doors. 
Developing nations just don't have the funds and the staff to do this, at least not properly, meaning that the enforcement would be woefully inadequate and that the management goals would not be reached. 
Fiji beware - but happy to be proven wrong!

And what about sustainable fishing, the ultimate goal?
At least for me, sanctuaries are merely stop gap measures aimed at preserving what needs preserving right now before it is too late. This means that I'm fully in favor of adding provisions whereby exemptions can be grated for the establishment of sustainable fisheries for Sharks.
But let me repeat: let the fishing industry and the traders fund the according research and let them come up with substantiated and detailed proposals via reputable third-party certifications - much like an ecological impact assessment!

Long story short?
Advocating both sanctuaries and sustainable fishing is not mutually exclusive - it is about finding the best solutions for determined situations at a determined time, and to be willing to accept change whenever adequate. Right now, sanctuaries and fin bans are far cheaper and easier to implement and thus far more efficient and effective, especially in the developing word - but long-term, sustainable fishing is by far the better solution.

So let's be more practical and less dogmatic shall we?  


Shark Diver said...

To Wit:

Illegal fishing (sharks) takes place where vessels operate in violation of the laws of a fishery. This can apply to fisheries that are under the jurisdiction of a coastal state or to high seas fisheries regulated by regional organisations.

Unreported fishing is fishing that has been unreported or misreported to the relevant national authority or regional organisation, in contravention of applicable laws and regulations.

Unregulated fishing generally refers to fishing by vessels without nationality, or vessels flying the flag of a country not party to the regional organisation governing that fishing area or species.

The drivers behind illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing are clear enough, and similar to those behind many other types of international environmental crime. Most obviously, pirate fishers have a strong economic incentive: many species of fish, particularly those that have been over-exploited and are thus in short supply, are of high value.

Such IUU activity may then show a high chance of success – i.e. a high rate of return – from the failure of governments to regulate adequately (e.g. inadequate coverage of international agreements), or to enforce national or international laws (e.g. because of lack of capacity, or poor levels of governance). A particular driver behind IUU fishing is the failure of a number of flag states to exercise any effective regulation over ships on their registers—which in turn creates an incentive for ships to register under these flags of convenience.

Since no-one is reporting catches made by pirates, their level of fishing cannot be accurately quantified. However, industry observers think that IUU occurs in most fisheries, and accounts for up to 30% of total catches in some important fisheries.

Random Sampling of Stories:

Show me one headline that reads "All's Well In The Sanctuary" and we'll have a debate;)

There's no dogma here just a never ended series of recent large scale happenstance busts in many so called shark sanctuaries(not actual enforcement)with thousands of dead animals.

Sanctuary? or SINO?

One has full protections, The animals remain safe the others...not so much.

Are the ideas of Sanctuaries a good thing? Absolutely.

Do they all have budgets for actual enforcement? Ask Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace, and any number of activist groups they seem to think not and for once (mark this day)I happen to agree with them.

One more thing in 2014/15 a new movie will be out from a small French team who have been looking into the issue of Shark Sanctuaries and what they found after the fact might change your mind.

Or not, frankly I don't have a dog in this fight just to point out the obvious.

Many of the so called Shark Sanctuaries are still a haven for now illegal shark fishing.

It is happening, right now, right this second like it or not, believe it or not, act on it or not, plan for it or not, this is a stone cold fact.

Shark Diver said...

So Part Two:

As we said back in 2011:

SINO's are the looming Act Two for shark conservation. Getting a politician to make promises for the environment is a time honored tradition. Getting that same politician or his or her successor to follow through with hard and fast enforcement is where the rubber meets the road.

That rubber will cost millions of dollars to the shark conservation movement who have managed thus far to get Sanctuaries declared at a pace that has been stunning to watch. It has also been a relatively cheap affair, conservation light, with dollars spent verses sanctuary acres created part of the ongoing equation.

Where enforcement monies, infrastructure, and boots on the ground will come from for these newly created sanctuaries anyone knows.

Before another country declares a Sanctuary for Sharks we should be looking at how we are going to manage the millions of remote acres we already have locked away in countries that have a long track record of SINO.

It's where we have to focus in the next decade and it all starts with dollars and a plan.

What part of this are you not in agreement with?

DaShark said...

Agree about the IUU, obviously.

What I'm saying is that even so, volumes are certainly substantially smaller than before, when there was no management whatsoever and everything was a legal free-for-all - especially when it comes to coastal fishing!

So no it is not at all perfect - but it is certainly a big step in the right direction!

Or do you have a better proposal - something that works right now and not in some utopian future in an utopian world?

Shark Diver said...

Yes the legal free-for-all is over in these regions.

My point has always been we have/had a window to follow up the rhetoric and photo opps during the creation of the Shark Sanctuaries to get real outside money for enforcement.

Boats, airplanes, officers, comm gear, radar, computers, sat phones.

The stuff that you need to enforce the actual regions.

More to the point where has the leadership from the major and mainstream NGO's been demanding and wrangling up these funds?

As comprehensively as the rush for creation of Shark Sanctuaries was the same could not have been said for the rush to get the funding for enforcement.

Time is a factor.

The free-for-all fisheries for sharks which became illegal waited and watched looking for the new enforcement which has yet to arrive.

The incentive to stop lucrative fisheries begins and starts at the bow of a fast boat w armed guards.

There's no sweet solution to fisheries, we all know that.

All efforts are good in their own way but as we all know money is the key element and it's missing right now.

DaShark said...

We got ourselves dissent & a debate! :)

Actually, I agree in principle Mr. P, to wit here and here!

Where I disagree is where you appear to state that sanctuaries are useless and just some publicity stunt by the NGOs.
- they do reduce Shark fishing, especially for coastal Sharks
- if set up cleverly, enforcement is way cheaper than suggested
- enforcement is happening, and some of it is being funded by NGOs

But I agree, the job is not simply done by making grand declarations - and yes more would be better (but beware of the 80-20 rule!) and we certainly need to keep focusing on this aspect.

DaShark said...

PS talking of which, here are 2 more fallacies for David's brilliant post:

14) Never criticize another conservationist.
Dissent and debates are eminently important for the advancement of the movement.

15) We must all work together.
Strategies, ideologies, agendas and especially personalities are often simply incompatible.

The Saipan Blogger said...

Shark enforcement is done the same way tuna enforcement is done: transhipment at port, port inspections, observers, and tip-offs. The idea of having armed vessels roaming the seas looking just for shark fishermen is a Sea Shepherd fantasy.

Shark Diver said...

Sea Shepherd and fantasy? Never happen;)