Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Shark Sanctuaries: only Spin?

Polynesia Shark Sanctuary - the latest and biggest!

Oh for crying out loud!
Have a look at this shit.
Shark Sanctuaries: Substance or Spin? 

As Shark populations collapse and public concern rises, some national governments have established shark sanctuaries. 
These countries, such as Marshall Islands, Maldives, and Venezuela, have been touted to be “safeguarding” (1) and “protecting” (2) sharks. The Marshall Islands sanctuary was hailed as the “strongest legislation to protect sharks we have seen” (3). Fiji bucked the trend recently by deciding not to declare their national waters a sanctuary, thereby attracting press attention and criticism (4). 

This raises the question: What are shark sanctuaries, and does their creation result in effective shark conservation and management? 
Given that studies show shark populations are declining mainly as a result of overfishing (5, 6), no-take marine zones might seem like a logical and effective way to curb mortality and boost populations. However, what constitutes a sanctuary varies among countries, and often is not synonymous with no-take zones. For example, the Marshall Islands bans commercial fishing yet allows small-scale fishing of sharks (7). The Maldives has banned commercial fishing only in waters out to 12 nautical miles (8), and Venezuela has banned commercial shark fishing in less than 1% of their waters (9). 

Even with sufficiently protective bans, shark sanctuary creation is only the first step; the real challenge is ensuring effectiveness through strict monitoring and enforcement (10, 11), which requires sustainable financing. 
Indeed, Fiji’s offshore fisheries officer stressed difficulties with monitoring and enforcing a total ban on shark fishing (12). Alternatively, allocating capacity toward scientific data collection would allow experts to evaluate effectiveness of management measures and inform long-term regional and global population assessments. 

Shark sanctuaries provide hope, but there is no scientific evidence that they are effective—yet. Even worse, the positive press attention surrounding shark sanctuaries may preclude more effective conservation management. 
Sanctuaries should not substitute for rigorous, science-based management. 

LINDSAY N. K. DAVIDSON Earth to Ocean Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada. E-mail: ldavidso@sfu.ca

Even worse?????
Just great isn't it.

What a fucking disaster!
Local fisheries, of Sharks and otherwise, are at a fraction of 1960ies baselines, fisheries management in most developing countries is either non-existent  or severely lacking - and this stupid chit has the audacity to go sniping against Shark sanctuaries, playing right into the hands of the fishing industry?

What is this, the bloody uprising of the nerds?
Had the bloody fish management intelligentsia done their bloody job and bloody managed our fish stocks sustainably, there would be no bloody need for us conservationists to advocate sanctuaries and bans in the first place! 
How about you get off your fat arses, stop trying to cover up your own track record of dismal failures and for once go and do the job we all pay you for with our hard earned money! How about you come up with some results instead of wasting everybody's time with your stupid uhhming and aahing! How about no more expensive and useless committees and junkets, paper shuffling and procrastination but some actual field work, hard decisions and tangible progress instead! How about finally invoking the precautionary principle everybody agrees upon in theory but nobody has the guts to implement!
If I had it my way, each and everyone of you would have been kicked out of the door a long time ago - would have been real good fun to look at you trying to survive out there in the cold, with real timelines, deliverables and personal accountability!

Ain't gonna happen is it.
Instead, we the conservationists will continue to have to allocate our time and our resources to try and clean up the mess you have caused. 
Want us to start pointing fingers and calling names?

So here's the deal.
We're all sick and tired of the continued lack of support by some quarters within the scientific community. Either become part of the solution or at least have the grace to finally shut the f up and stop trying to derail the process you have been too stupid and/or lazy and/or corrupt and/or cowardly to implement in the first place!
And start bloody earning the money you keep asking us for!
End of rant - Merry Xmas!


Tropical Selkie said...


DaShark said...

In keeping with the Xmas spirit, no doubt! :)

Tropical Selkie said...

A re-posting my rant on this subject from a week ago, if I may?

RANT: RANT: Enforcement of marine protected areas IS important; that's not news. Every time a new MPA or shark sanctuary is created (and hurray that they are being created!), a slew of pundits points out the obvious -- what about enforcement? Trust me, the people who have devoted their careers and often personal lives to these issues aren't thinking 'cool, so THAT'S done' once a new MPA is created. BUT, you can't enforce a protected area that doesn't exist. So, the designation of the area must come first. If we waited for the perfect scenario, there would be no designations. Let's allow these significant victories to be applauded and then build on them. Protecting the oceans and its sharks is slow, methodical work but we are getting it done; step by step. Which is nothing short of a miracle. [Standing ovation for those who are making it happen!!]

Angelo Villagomez said...

David Shiffman had a thread going on Twitter about this. I pointed out that she mistakenly refers to Venezuela as a sanctuary, and ignores the successful enforcement efforts of Honduras, Palau, and Marshall Islands this year. There were more shark busts than illegal tuna fishing busts, I think (but haven't checked to actually back that statement up).

DaShark said...

Forget the minutiae Angelo - that letter is an intellectual abomination full stop.

"We must continue to fish otherwise we can't manage" - if that doesn't say it all!

Tropical Selkie said...

Shiffman makes some interesting (but not new) points in hisTwitter "conversation" about this. However, it would be better to have such an important conversation on a blog (this one or his) where responses/exchanges aren't limited to a few characters at a time! Frustrating, to say the least.

DaShark said...

We've already had this discussion ad nauseam Sam.

The question is, how do we protect Sharks effectively and efficiently ( = in the fastest, cheapest and comparatively easiest to enforce way) in the developing word - and the answer is fin bans and sanctuaries.
That's what the precautionary principle calls for.

If the fishers and traders want to establish a sustainable Shark fishery, I for one am all for it - but no more squandering of our time and money!

Let them who reap them benefits invest their resources into the data analysis and independent certification, much like an ecological impact assessment.
There's 50-odd years worth of data documenting the overfishing and depletion of stocks, and more data can be obtained by interpolating bycatch statistics. Coastal Shark populations can be counted and monitored.

And if they then come up with a credible proposal for a sustainable fishery, one should indeed consider an exemption to the ban - for determined amounts of a determined species caught in a determined area. Whether bycatch or targeted - dead is dead, landed is landed.

But this underhanded sniping by the representatives of the failed policies must stop.
And no more money for some useless egghead wanting to convince us that we need to procrastinate further by kicking the can further down the road.

Enough is enough!

Ila France Porcher said...

What is remarkable is that this extraordinary missive originated not far from me, in this snowy wasteland for sharks which is not only not a shark sanctuary, but sports stores stuffed with shark fins. The writer would do well to clean up his own back yard before criticizing the little Pacific countries which have led the way in shark protection.

Anonymous said...

Calm the hell down. The main point of this article is that there's a risk that countries would use the designation of "shark sanctuary" to absolve themselves of further management.

No need to fly off the fucking handle about this true statement. I don't agree with the idea that there's no scientific evidence that shark sanctuaries work - I think she overstretched there, but to write the sentiment off as an "intellectual abomination" is asinine.

DaShark said...

A RISK huh.
For whom, exactly – the Shark fin industry?

Anonymous said...

You're being willfully ignorant and ignoring what I said.

I said "...there's a risk that countries would use the designation of "shark sanctuary" to absolve themselves of further management."

Your comment "For whom exactly - the shark fin industry" makes no sense in this context. The shark fin industry would indeed be well served by a situation where a label gives the mistaken impression that a problem is solved.

Again I don't agree with her article 100% (particularly the "no evidence" thing - that was overreaching) but all she is doing is raising the alarm. She's saying that having a labelled area isn't enough, and in fact can be counterproductive if the outcomes don't match the label. Your post doesn't address this at all, and you're acting like she said that we need to open the doors to fishing, thereby dismissing the efforts of conservationists on the ground. She simply did not do that - this was the wrong target for your (legitimate!) frustration that the scientific community often fails to support effective on-the-ground conservation efforts.

DaShark said...

This is what pisses me off.

The statement is
Even worse, the positive press attention surrounding shark sanctuaries may preclude more effective conservation management.
Sanctuaries should not substitute for rigorous, science-based management.

Read this.

These are developing countries that simply do not have the resources for rigorous, science-based management, meaning that any such attempts will fail and cement the status quo whilst on paper conveying the illusion that something is being done - exactly what is wrongly being bemoaned in sanctuaries!
Hell, one could argue that ALL such management plans have been an utter failure if compared to the 60ies baselines when the FAO sanctioned the industrial exploitation of the oceans!

And of course the fishing industry knows that all too well and together with the Asian "development" partners that build roads and hospitals in exchange for fishing rights etc, they are exerting tremendous pressure on those governments to repeal the sanctuaries in favor of those fake "management" plans.
And this hit piece in an academic journal is playing right into their hands!

What remains of concern are the enforcement and the prosecution.
But they are happening albeit maybe not to the extent one would wish - which is once again due to lack of resources.
So no, we do not need to alternatively allocate the scarce capacity toward scientific data collection but invest the little we got into ensuring that the legislation sticks!

In view of the specific realities on the ground, sanctuaries are BY FAR the most efficient and effective conservation measure - and sniping against them (just look at the title of that letter!) is totally uncalled for!