Sunday, December 23, 2018

Fishing for Sharks in Fiji - Paper!

Click for detail! 

How times change!

Remember Kerstin's master thesis and subsequent paper about coastal fishing in Fiji? 
Back then when she did her survey a mere five years ago, the data revealed that most caught Sharks were primarily being kept in order to sell the fins to the local bêche-de-mer traders who in turn would export them to Asia.

Not so nowadays.
Kerstin has once again interviewed dozens of fishermen all across Fiji and the news is not good. On top of discovering that indiscriminate overfishing and poaching have very unfortunately become ubiquitous, Shark fishing has fundamentally changed.
As the Asian demand, and thus the prices for the fins have crept ever lower, and as most middlemen have vanished due to the closure of the local bêche-de-mer trade, most caught Sharks are now being caught incidentally and consumed directly by the fishermen themselves. This is very much in line with international developments (and here! and here!) where as the prized Fish are being fished away, the once-eschewed Shark meat is increasingly being consumed as an alternate source of protein.
And where Sharks are still being targeted by small-scale commercial fishermen, it is for the local trade in the Fish markets where Shark meat is being sold as a cheap alternative to chicken and where you can buy a bundle of neonate Sharks for a fistful of dollars, but also in order to sell the fins directly to the local Asian restaurants.

This is obviously of concern.
Whereas trying to manage the fishery by monitoring the trade is comparatively easy, trying to monitor thousands of subsistence fishermen is not; and it is also of particular concern to us to discover that the fishermen are targeting the juveniles of Scalloped Hammerheads and especially Bull Sharks in the river nurseries, see the graph at the top.

Look no further than this commitment by Fiji at the 2017 UN Ocean Conference where I'm highly confident that good things will happen sooner rather than later. And when that eventuates, we will be standing ready to assist with the monitoring and enforcement like announced.
And yes: please Adopt Your Shark Now!

But I'm digressing as always.

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