Monday, September 01, 2014

Sustainable Shark Fins - encore!



I totally missed this when it came out.
Please do take the time to watch it.

And now, read this op-ed by KT Tan.

Same old same old - remember this post
There you will also find links to excellent answers by Shark Savers to those allegations. In essence, KT's arguments once again detract from the fact that the majority of the fins originate from completely unregulated, unsustainable and often illegal fisheries.
So no need for me to dwell on a rebuttal.

But of course there's also a big kernel of truth!
It is certainly completely wrong to engage in unilateral Asia bashing. 
And from a conservation point of view, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to ban the fins of (already dead) Sharks that have been fished sustainably, let alone been certified - the more since if you watch the interview with the Singaporean fin trader at the end, there already appears to be a trade in sustainably sourced fins.

So, it's back to square one isn't it.
The various campaigns to curb the demand for Shark fin soup are laudable, and the successes are impressive - nice synopsis with excellent comments by Sam here. But like she correctly remarks, Sharks continue to be targeted for other reasons, and bycatch rates plus IUU remain a grave concern.

Solutions - and I am of course repeating myself!
But to facilitate the monitoring and the enforcement, this is what we should ask for
  • That anybody trading in Sharks and Shark parts come up with independent proof that his merchandise originates from sustainable and legal fisheries and has been obtained by legal means
As long as that proof is not forthcoming, the pressure on the industry should be kept up.
But once the industry shows a willingness to reform,
  • Let us help establish and grow a premium market for certified Shark fins from sustainably managed Shark fisheries!
I know - not what the breathy sharktivists want to hear.
But it is the right thing to do. Like I said, you may oppose it and and then find yourselves trying to catch up later - or you can embrace it and be at the forefront of smart pragmatic conservation.

The choice is yours.


Anonymous said...

Well said. I am a marine biologist by training and work in sustainable seafood. The current stance by WWF in Singapore is that to partner up to their sustainable seafood program a company must have a ban on shark fin. If the shark fin is from a sustainable fishery, indeed MSC certified, if the meat is consumed, and they have laws that say whole sharks must landed, it is non-sensical to have such a requirement. It could only be construed as an assault on the Chinese culture of consuming shark fin. The only other thing I can think about is that career advancement or green kudos for those that can be seen to achieve such a ban might be behind it... I feel it is a short-sighted, misguided approach that tries to hold hotels and restaurants to green ransom - something that an esteemed organization like WWF should not engage in as it discredits them and importantly their partners the MSC.

Angelo Villagomez said...

The policy you describe would result in every single shark species found in the fin trade being placed on CITES Appendix II.

DaShark said...

And why not Angelo - that would be a great way to push science based Shark fisheries management & put a big dampener on IUU!

DaShark said...


Thank you, very interesting!

WWF is a conservation behemoth, and having a coherent unified position on everything is probably not easy. Read this and you will discern that some of its chapters are very much promoting the idea of certified Shark fins. So it's probably only a matter of time til the concept will pervade all of the organization.
Fingers crossed!

Anonymous said...

Thank you DaShark. I read the link you provided and fully agree on your comment about WWF. An organization is made up of individuals that will not always agree and WWF is no different. It should encourage discussion amongst its members and allow them to be free to express their personal opinions. However, at the country level, policy should not differ from one country to the next, and a global policy should be consistent. I am not sure if that is the case with WWF Singapore and WWF globally. Actually the collapse in the trade has probably come mostly from the anti-extravagence measures taken by the Chinese government to stamp out corruption. Either way the result is a good one if it is leading to less pressure on overfished shark populations. Key now is not to block sustainable shark fisheries that are a potential source of protein and income in developing nations that can demonstrate sustainable management. Sadly I am remaining anonymous due to the fact I get attacked for my views on this by those much less qualified and experienced - despite my work in promoting sustainable seafood and their organization.

DaShark said...

Agree - but as I said, I'm quite confident that the issues within the WWF are only transitory.

The real obstacle is that the global trade is still in no way showing that it is genuinely trying to clean up its act, meaning that the bulk of the fins still originates from non-managed and unsustainable fisheries or has been obtained by illegal means, i.e IUU, corruption, exploitation etc.

And as long as that is the case, it is only natural that most conservationists want to operate with blanket bans.

It's a two-way street, where both sides need to cooperate honestly towards equitable solutions.
Not impossible but certainly not easy!