Thursday, November 24, 2011

Only Bycatch?

Blue Sharks in pre-tsunami Kessenuma, pic by Shawn Heinrichs - click for detail.

And talking about the WCPFC.
The following Shark bycatch figures have been reported for five Spanish surface longline vessels operating in the region in 2010.
  • Blue shark = 717 mt
  • Shortfin mako = 218 mt
  • Oceanic whitetip shark = 0.5 mt
  • Sandbar shark = 0.1 mt
  • TOTAL = 935.6 mt
And then, there is the following Note: The EU-Spanish surface longline fleet has never carried out finning practice in Pacific Ocean.

Yes you've read it correctly: that would be five vessels!
Here are the total Blue Shark figures for other countries.
Australia 13.90 mt; China 506.00 mt; Japan 7,624.00 mt; Korea 1.44 mt; New Zealand 712.00 mt; Samoa 0.19 mt; US 7.00 mt.

Sound plausible to you?
May the Spaniards still be at it?
Having emptied their own waters, may they have come here under the umbrella of the European Union in order to target those Sharks whilst pretending to be fishing for Tuna? Remember that those "bycatch" figures mean that those Sharks were retained, i.e. killed!
Does that hypocritical Note still make you happy?

This is what the Shark Alliance writes.

Over the last decade, European participation in the Hong Kong fin market, led by Spain, has grown from negligible levels to nearly a third of total declared imports.
This share is likely to be an underestimate as fins taken by the Europe’s distant water fleets may be credited to other countries.

The fact is that those Sharks could have been easily released.
Blue Sharks are particularly hardy and here is what this document by Pew teaches us.

According to the IUCN, bycatch is one of the most devastating threats facing sharks.
Although some RFMOs have prohibited the taking of a small number of threatened species, the problem of shark bycatch has been largely ignored, and no meaningful or effective action has been taken to adequately address the issue.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was estimated that 300,000 metric tons (t) of shark catch, nearly a third of the global total, were the result of unregulated bycatch landings. Sharks are caught in different fisheries such as trawls and gill nets, but pelagic longline fishing is considered the most significant source of the bycatch problem.

Longline vessels that fish with wire leaders or use squid for bait in a shallow-set manner have the highest levels of shark bycatch. In pelagic longline fisheries, sharks often make up more than a quarter of the total catch (target and bycatch).

More than 70 percent of blue sharks survive after being hooked on a longline and brought onboard, and an additional 80 to 95 percent of the discarded blue sharks are expected to survive the release process.
In the U.S. Atlantic, pelagic longline fishery survival rates are even higher, with 97 percent of tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) and 87.8 percent of blue sharks surviving the fishing process.

And then, there's Chinese Taipei, i.e. Taiwan.
Their small- and large scale Tuna long liners have caught a whopping 10,989 metric tons of Blue Shark in the region - notabene as bycatch!
And take a wild guess as to where that "bycatch" is being offloaded!

And what about Fiji?
Take a look for yourself and draw the inevitable conclusions!

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