I must say that I'm impressed!
This article is really as good as it gets.
It touches on basically all the aspects dominating the current debate about Shark fishing and Shark conservation, and I find myself agreeing with most of the opinions expressed by the various interlocutors.
Obviously there are some mistakes.
The principal one is the usual confusion between finning and fishing. Kessennuma was zero about finning as the Sharks were being landed whole and every last part of them was being utilized. Back then, the obvious problem was that those Sharks were being overfished - but the town has since been devastated by the tsunami so the overfishing may have subsided, albeit very likely only temporarily.
I was also intrigued by some of the factoids.
If those fins are indeed the third most lucrative illicit good on the world market, behind only drugs and guns (really - ahead of say, human trafficking, illegal timber and blood diamonds?), what's the chance of the value of all Shark fishing, legal and illegal, being only 630m as stated in this stupidity?
And when Alex teaches us that the fins are increasing in value because they’re becoming increasingly harder to come by…When oil prices surged, fishermen couldn’t afford gas needed to go out. This made them even more of a hot commodity - does that not directly confirm my critique in that post?
My take-away message?
- In most of the oceans, several Sharks species are still being overfished
- There are however a few places where Shark fisheries are being relatively well managed
- Sustainable fishing for Sharks is theoretically possible - but it is only commercially viable for some smaller and faster growing species with better reproductive capacity.
- Although the Shark fin trade remains the principal driver of most Shark fishing, there is an increasing volume of Sharks that are being primarily fished for food and where the whole animal gets utilized. If so, the fins should be utilized as well.
- With that in mind and despite of the recent successes in reducing demand in Asia, Shark fishing will remain a reality - which is OK provided that it is sustainable
- Any solutions will need to be species- and location specific, meaning that there are no absolutes. Depending on specific local circumstances, one should advocate better management measures - but in other locations, outright bans may well be the most efficient and effective strategy, at least in the shorter term.
Anyway, great article - read it!