Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fiji - bad News for Sharks!

Brilliant! Brand new pic by the BAD Viking!

Patric is absolutely correct.
The Fiji Times has published an excellent piece about the need to protect our Sharks. Apart from the known ecological consequences of a decline in Shark population, the economic case for protecting Sharks in Fiji could not be clearer.
Fiji's thriving Shark tourism industry is generating ten times as much as the revenues from the Shark fin trade - and whereas the latter will inevitably dwindle as Fiji's Sharks are being killed, Shark tourism is completely non-extractive and likely to contribute even higher earnings in the future.

But time is running out.
Sharks are essentially a non-renewable resource and whilst Government appears to be pondering the best course of action, there are now clear indications that local stocks are already critically depleted. The article points out that fisheries data indicate that the larger animals have already been dispatched and that the coastal fishermen are now targeting the juveniles as per this recent report from Nadi.

And now this.
Following their Shark Count in April, the Mamanuca Environment Society reports that Whitetip and Blacktip numbers have crashed.
The Mamanucas are situated at the very epicenter of Fiji's tourism industry and these news could not be more alarming as this is directly threatening the ecological integrity of one of our preeminent tourism attractions. And whereas I applaud the Society for trying to educate the local fishermen, years of painful experience teach me that as long as catching and even finning Sharks remain both perfectly legal and lucrative, and people desperately poor, there will always be somebody trying to catch the last Sharks irrespective of the wishes of the community and even the Chiefs.

Then, maybe, the news may not be quite so grim.
The Mamanucas were particularly affected by the April floods, meaning that the Sharks may have reacted to the catastrophic deluge of fresh water, possibly by relocating further offshore. This at least is my hope, meaning that the next count in November may yield a less depressing picture.

Still, the need for immediate protection could not be more pressing.
Fingers crossed that the Authorities will come to the same conclusions and do the right thing real soon.

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