Friday, October 01, 2010

About killing Sharks in Mozambique

Watch these two videos.
Hat tip: The Dorsal Fin and Underwater Thrills.

First comment: very well done!
Very diverse in their approach, both are thankfully lacking the usual melodrama and depict the huge temptation for the fishermen who are not the proverbial bad guys but are just trying to eke out a living.

Second thought, may we again be preaching to the converted – and how do we translate this into Shark conservation?

That, I guess, will very much depend on where these clips will be aired, and to whom.
Shark conservation is extremely complicated and in this specific case, the Shark fin trade in Mozambique, it is likely to involve the following participants:
- the fishermen who catch the Sharks
- the government of Mozambique who should regulate, monitor and enforce both the fishing and the trade
- any foreign government or NGO who could assist them in that task
- the traders who buy the fins
- the end consumers, likely of Asian origin

For reasons I’ve explained in extenso elsewhere, I believe that effective Shark conservation has to happen locally as opposed to trying to re-educate the consumers, and that it should generally advocate sustainable fishing as opposed to bans.

With that in mind, it's great to see the involvement of Andrea Marshall of global Manta Ray fame.
She and two fellow researchers have established the Foundation for the Protection of Marine Megafauna that is based in Mozambique and is thus an ideal conduit for effecting change in situ, the more as they already have excellent contacts to the always smart and generous SOSF and other sponsors. Bravo Vodacom Mozambique, way to go!

Philippe Cousteau Jr?
Frankly, dunno. If it’s about parachuting in for a BBC shoot to proffer some pro-Shark sound bites, well, gee, thanks. If his involvement is more than that, meaning that he is contributing money, proposing realistic solutions or personally engaging in the incredibly tedious and always highly frustrating work of effecting change, all the power to him!

Mozambique is piss poor and without help from outside, Shark fishing is likely to continue unabated, videos or no videos.
Judging from where I sit, possible solutions could be dive tourism where income filters down to the grassroots level; well monitored funding and technical aid to government aimed at enacting pro-Shark legislation and then, at helping enforcement and mitigating the effects for the fishermen; and the ultimate solution which however requires time: education, especially of the young generation.

But Andrea, Simon and Chris are right there and certainly know best.
If you care and want to help, you may want to start by going and asking them.


Juerg said...

Thanks, Mike, for posting this.
Mozambique is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful and best places on this planet to encounter sharks (especially whale sharks) and manta rays. Andrea, Simon and Chris are doing an excellent job there to put shark tourism on the map. These efforts are backed up by a number of research projects. For example, we tag whale sharks with acoustic tags and also satellite tags to monitor their vertical and horizontal movements. Similar approach to what is going on in Fiji. And probably the only viable option in the fight against shark finning.

Ksenia K said...

Thank you Michael for sharing this video... i do agree with what you say, but it seems that one of the main problems highlighted is illegal fishing by pirate vessels... their capacity far outstrips the locals. What to do with this, it's sad beyond words ;(

Btw, I've come across your site through pats0n, whose blog I follow.. ;) Fiji is now high on my to-go list! Keep up the good work!