SHARK finning

unrecorded wastage on a global scale

SHARK FINNING: Unrecorded Wastage on a Global Scale September 2003 A report by WildAid and Co-Habitat
This report was researched and written by Susie Watts Acknowledgements Our thanks go to: Scott Radway Jeff Rotman Kanchai Taechawanwakin Joe Richard Warren N. Joyce Aaron Henderson Juan Carlos Cantu Sarah Fowler Averil Bones Environmental Investigation Agency Becky Zug Stephanie Carnow Erica Knie Randall Arauz Cecilia Falconi Godfrey Merlen Sonja Fordham Merry Camhi Rachel Cavanagh The Homeland Foundation The David and Lucile Packard Foundation Stefan Schmidheiny Stephen Wong WildAid also acknowledges the immense contribution made by two of its investigators

SHARK STOCKS COLLAPSE
Recent research has shown precipitous declines in many coastal and oceanic shark species in the Northwest Atlantic. It has been estimated that, since 1986, hammerheads have declined by 89%, thresher sharks by 80%, white sharks by 79% and tiger sharks by 65%. All recorded shark species, with the exception of makos, have declined by more than 50% in the past 8 to 15 years1. Stocks of kitefin shark (Dalatias licha) in the Azores and thornback ray (Raja clavata) in the North Sea have shown severe declines and may be depleted. For the spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) in the Northeast Atlantic, there is an estimated decline in biomass since 1977 of over 5,000,000 to well below 100,000 in 2001, representing a 98% decline2. Research published in May 2003 reveals that these steep declines in shark stocks are echoed across a much wider range of predatory fish species. Trajectories of community biomass and composition of large predatory fishes were constructed for four continental shelf and nine oceanic systems, using data from the beginning of exploitation. Results of this research showed that industrialised fisheries typically reduced community biomass by 80% within 15 years of the start of exploitation. The Gulf of Thailand lost 60% of large finfish, sharks and skates during the first five years of industrialised trawl fishing3.

Front cover pic: A diver discovers finned sharks
© jeffrotman.com (jeffrotman.com)

Back cover pic: Blue shark being finned on a Costa Rican longliner (taken from video)
© Vargas/STRP

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SHARK FINNING: UNRECORDED WASTAGE ON A GLOBAL SCALE

Shark finning can be defined as the on-board removal of a shark’s fins and the discarding at sea of the remainder of the shark. The animal is sometimes alive during this process
BACKGROUND

The widespread practice of shark finning is the result of a combination of factors: increasing demand for shark fin, the industrialisation of fishing techniques and the changing economics of catching and transporting fish products. It is likely that the volume of whole sharks landed by fishing vessels around the world once provided sufficient fins to supply the fin markets of east Asia and amongst east Asian communities worldwide. However, as shark meat is inferior to that of most commercially-exploited fish species, particularly tuna and billfish, the profits to be made from shark meat are naturally much lower. Limited on-board storage space, combined with the increasing value of shark fin, has made it economically advantageous to discard the bulky shark bodies while retaining the valuable fins, which can be sun dried and stored very compactly without refrigeration. The prevalence of shark finning is serious enough for the UN Food and Agriculture Oranisation (FAO) to have made recommendations for ending it. For the FAO, with its strong emphasis on global food security, the decline in shark populations has become a cause of concern. In its 1999 International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, the FAO recommended that Member States implement National Plans of Action for sharks.The plan recommends that Member States seek to “minimize waste and discards from shark catches in accordance with article 7.2.2.(g) of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (for example, requiring the retention of sharks from which fins are removed)” 4. A ban on shark finning, not only within individuals nations’ own waters but also on

Above: Finned shark in the Surin Archipelago, Andaman sea

the high seas would therefore be entirely consistent with the FAO’s recommendations. Data on shark finning are hard to find: it is not a practice that the fishing industry is particularly proud of and, since the practice occurs at sea, the only witnesses are generally crew members, who benefit from the income from the fins. However, there is enough evidence to suggest that finning is widespread in numerous fisheries, that huge numbers of sharks are finned every year and that the vast majority of these mortalities go unreported. A combination of two factors has led to an explosion in the demand for shark fin soup. Firstly, the rapid expansion of east Asian economies, particularly that of mainland China, has created a vastly increased middleclass sector with disposable income.What began as a rare and expensive delicacy is now standard fare at most weddings and corporate functions. Secondly, the consumption of shark fin soup in China, previously frownedupon as an elitist practice, was politically “rehabilitated” in 19875.The result was a massive upswing in the international fin trade, prompting fishermen worldwide to target sharks for their fins and to remove the fins from sharks caught as bycatch in other fisheries. Fin traders have systematically spread the word that fins are valuable to fishermen the world over, often providing equipment and monetary advances in order to secure fins. Sharks are increasingly targeted

for their fins in marine reserves, where a relatively small vessel can quickly decimate shark populations.
AUSTRALIAN FINNING

Few governments have studied, let alone published data on, the prevalence of finning on board their vessels. Australia is one of the very few countries, possibly the only one, that has systematically

THE EXTENT OF SHARK FINNING
It is impossible to establish how many sharks are finned annually, as few fishers admit to finning sharks. Only occasionally, when large quantities of fins without corresponding carcasses are seized, is the event recorded. However, the IUCN Shark Specialist Group has made the following assessment: “An initial comparison of some national shark landings data and Hong Kong fin import data from these countries indicate a significant mismatch (based on widely-employed fin to body ratios for shark carcasses). The conclusion we draw is that the fins of tens of millions of sharks ‘missing’ from the landings data of many nations are appearing in Hong Kong. Some of this mismatch may be due to underreporting of shark landings, but observer data from high seas fisheries and reports of fin fisheries in some developing countries indicate that many millions of sharks are being finned and discarded at sea2.”

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© Kanchai Taechawanwakin

SHARK FINNING

researched finning in its own fisheries. A recent report on shark finning published by the Australian Government6 analyses the prevalence of finning in each of the country’s fisheries where sharks are taken.The frequency of shark finning varies widely across the different fisheries, ranging from “hardly ever” to “almost always”. In the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, an estimated 70% of all captured sharks were being finned prior to a ban imposed in October 2000.The total number of sharks caught in 1998 and 1999 is estimated to be 150,000, which suggests that around 105,000 sharks taken in this fishery during those two years were finned. In the Southern and Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery, it is reported that “the majority of vessels” were finning most sharks that they caught prior to the 2000 ban. Out of 40 vessels currently operating, only 3 or 4 were reported to be releasing all sharks. In 1999, an estimated 28,000 sharks were caught in this fishery. In the Northern Prawn Fishery, some fishers are reported to have finned all sharks, while others finned only large specimens. The level of finning in this fishery is estimated by weight: research suggests that 450 tonnes of sharks were finned per year, representing tens of thousands of sharks, prior to an industry-initiated ban on finning that came into force in 2001. In the Torres Strait Fisheries, the weight of sharks estimated to be finned every year is 287 tonnes. No finning regulations currently exist for this fishery. In the Northern Shark Fishery, finning is prevalent. One fisher reported finning approximately 50% of his annual shark catch. As the report points out, this may not be the norm but even if an average of only 20% of sharks had been finned, this would represent tens of thousands of animals, given that the annual catch of sharks from 1994 to 1999 fluctuated between 315 and 759 tonnes. No finning regulations currently exist for this fishery. Finning is less prevalent in other fisheries and almost non-existent in some. However, using the figures that exist, it can be concluded that hundreds of thousands of sharks have been finned annually in Australian fisheries.Where finning has been banned, however, many thousands more have escaped that fate.

Illegal Fishing for Sharks
REVILLAGIGEDOS ISLANDS

Situated to the south-west of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, these islands became a marine reserve in 1997. In 2000, a fleet of drift gillnetters surrounded one of the islands and fished intensively for five days, killing an estimated 2,000-4,000 sharks. In most cases the sharks were finned and discarded5.
COCOS ISLANDS

Reef sharks were seen entangled on the hooks abandoned by the vessels once they had realised that their activities had been seen and videotaped. The vessels were also seen fishing at Shark Pass, renowned for its populations of grey reef and silvertip sharks, where local conservationists estimate that numbers are down by 50% since 20027.
COSTA RICA

One of the world’s top diving venues, this area is a World Heritage Site, but it is frequently subject to night-time incursions by vessels targeting sharks for their fins.The author of Jaws, Peter Benchley, has reported seeing a “shark graveyard” littered with dozens of finned sharks while diving in the area5.
THE MARSHALL ISLANDS

In May 2003 it was reported that a Hong Kong fishing company had been discovered fishing illegally in the Pacific Marshall Islands.The activities of five vessels owned by Edgewater Fisheries Inc. have been documented over a long period by local conservationists. Scuba divers provided video footage and eyewitness accounts of the vessels fishing close to the reefs of Bikini and Jaluit, in violation of fishing agreements.

On 19th May 2002 a Taiwanese vessel, Shen 1 Tsay 3, was filmed fishing illegally within the Costa Rican Exclusive Economic Zone. It had docked at Puntarenas twice in the space of three months.The Coast Guard was informed, but the vessel was thought to be too far out for any action to be taken.The vessel docked in Puntarenas again shortly thereafter. Local conservationists believe that the vessel was fishing for sharks 8.
AUSTRALIA

Australia has a long-standing problem with incursions into its northern and north-western waters by vessels illegally fishing for shark fins but these incursions have recently been reported to be at their highest for five years9. Australian authorities intercepted a total of 111 vessels in 2002, of which 108 were

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Costa Rica

Left: Position of the Shen 1 Tsay 3 when filmed.

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Shen 1 Tsay 19/05/02
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Isla del Coco

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ILLEGAL FISHING FOR SHARKS

Indonesian.The other three were a Sri Lankan vessel caught off the coast of Western Australia and two Russian vessels9. It has been reported that captured shark-finner crews have become a permanent feature in the “quarantine zone” in Darwin harbour. In late December 2002 it was estimated that 15 boats and 58 men were awaiting their fate within the zone and that twelve boats had already been torched by the Australian authorities. Mick Munn of the Fisheries Management Authority stated that “almost all are targeting shark fin. Any shark that gets on that line is gone, they’re not fussy. They like to target the big shovel-nose shark, but if they can’t get them they’ll take anything10.
The year 2003 has seen many more such incursions by Indonesian vessels: JANUARY 24TH: the Australian

Above: The Shen 1 Tsay 3

MAY 14TH: Eight illegal fishing boats were

authorities were reported to have apprehended an illegal Indonesian fishing boat 105 km inside the Australian Fishing Zone. Seven crew members and a quantity of shark fins were found on board.11
FEBRUARY 6TH: five fishing boats detained. Four of the five boats had shark or shark fins aboard12. One trawler was found with 30 shark fins and seven crew on board and a second vessel with two sets of shark fins13. MARCH 24TH: an Australian Navy patrol

being escorted to Darwin by navy patrol boats after being caught poaching off Australia’s northern coast over the previous three days.The boats had come from the port of Merauke in the Indonesian province of Papua and Dobo. All had been targeting shark fin17.
LATE MAY/EARLY JUNE: a further five

one illegal fishing boat in north Australian waters every three days and that a Customs patrol boat had just intercepted an illegal vessel with seven crew members and 160 pieces of shark fin aboard.This brought the total of vessels seized in the first seven months of 2003 to seventy-one19.
AUGUST 21ST: it is reported that five more

foreign fishing vessels were seized in northern Australian waters. All were targeting sharks for their fins. In response to increasing illegal incursions into Australian waters, the government allocated a further A$75 million to fund the efforts of enforcement agencies18.
JULY 2ND: it was reported that the Royal

Indonesian vessels have been apprehended in the past week, all containing fishing equipment and shark fin20.
SEPTEMBER 12TH & 13TH: five Indonesian boats were apprehended in two separate incidents.Three of the boats, caught fishing illegally off Arnhem Land, were carrying 40kg of shark fin.21 These incidents raised the number of boats caught fishing illegally in Australian waters in 2003 to ninety.22

Australian Navy and Customs were catching

boat intercepted three vessels fishing more than 50 nautical miles inside the Australian Fishing Zone. Each had large quantities of either fish or shark fins on board.This was reported to have raised the year’s current total of vessels apprehended for illegal fishing in northern Australian waters to twenty 14.The captain of one of the vessels was later given a five-month jail sentence14.
APRIL 9TH: The vessel Bintang Timur was

Below: These fishermen in Kupang, Indonesia, have been arrested in Australia but insist that they will keep returning.

caught 35 nautical miles inside the Australian fishing zone on April 9. Five other Indonesian vessels were also apprehended in April and all of them were reported to be fishing for shark fin15.
MAY 2ND: a magistrate jailed three

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© WildAid

Indonesian fishermen for a total of 18 months after they had been caught fishing illegally for shark fins in April16.

© Pretoma

Caught red-handed
CANADA

In 1997, the captain of a Japanese fishing vessel, Shoshin Maru 38, was found guilty of shark finning by a court in Halifax, after admitting that his crew had finned ten sharks. An on-board observer had witnessed the crew cutting the fins off ten blue sharks and throwing the bodies back overboard. The observer had also witnessed 895 blue sharks being landed on deck but when Fisheries officials visited the vessel, only 520 carcasses were found, raising questions as to the missing 375 carcasses. The captain admitted throwing 10 carcasses overboard but claimed that at least 90 carcasses had been washed overboard during a storm. Inspectors also found 430 sets of fins on board23.
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

‘The ease with which foreign vessels violate Costa Rican finning regulations is appalling’
Randall Arauz, Pretoma, Costa Rica, May 2003.

Right: Finned tiger shark caught by angler, Florida, USA

The Galapagos Islands and the Marine Reserve are subject to constant illegal fishing raids, with vessels frequently targeting sharks for their fins. Some vessels are local, while others arrive from as far away as Japan to fish illegally for sharks24. Since 1998, a minimum of 19,128 shark fins have been seized25. In 1998, 8,000 fins were discovered on the Niño Dios, an Ecuadorian vessel

apprehended on the north coast of Santa Cruz that had been collecting fins from a wide area26. In March 2001 the industrial long liner Maria Canella II was found fishing inside the Marine Reserve. On board were 78 sharks and 1,044 shark fins. On average, shark species produce four useable fins. The 78 sharks found on board would have accounted for only 312 of the 1,044

Below: Part of a seizure of 8,000 fins, Isabela Island, Galapagos

fins.The remaining fins represent the bodies of a further 180 sharks that were presumably discarded.Twenty-five miles (40 km) of long line had been laid across the Reserve27. In July 2001,The Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS) discovered two vessels fishing illegally in the Reserve. One was Costa Rican, the other Colombian. An inspection uncovered 619 shark fins and 100 shark bodies on board. The species were thought to be hammerheads and blacktip sharks but accurate identification was difficult as the heads and fins had been removed.28 In 2003, a pick-up truck was apprehended on Isabela island, and found to be carrying 4,000 shark fins25. In September 2003, the Ecuadorian Navy and Park officials seized 815 shark fins from an illegal fishing operation on Isabela island, within the Reserve. Four men, including a “Korean salesman”, were arrested.29
COSTA RICA

© Parque Nacional Galápagos

In July 2003, video evidence was obtained of 20-30 bags of shark fins at a private dock where Taiwanese fishing vessels habitually land shark fins. The bags were photographed alongside a Taiwanese vessel, Ho Tsai Fa No. 18.

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CAUGHT RED-HANDED

The Coast Guard was informed and the fisheries authority, INCOPESCA, agreed to raid the premises. However, INCOPESCA later reported that the fins were from a different vessel. A legal authority was consulted, but was unable to issue a search warrant without the agreement of INCOPESCA, who argued that video evidence of the fins alone was insufficient and that there needed to be evidence of the fins actually being offloaded from the vessel. It later transpired that the official cargo declaration from Ho Tsai Fa No.18 was for 60,000kg of shark fins. The declaration had been signed by all the appropriate authorities.8 On 31 May 2003, a Coast Guard official conducted an off-duty check at a private dock. He discovered a cache of fins weighing approximately 30 tonnes that had been landed by a Taiwanese vessel, the Goidau Roey No.1, which was flying a Panamanian flag. It had docked outside the legal landing hours in an attempt to avoid being seen. No carcasses were present8. The captain, Mr Huang Chih Chiang, had declared 53,000kg of frozen fish on the official landing documents but no frozen fish were found8. Although the Coast Guard verified that 30 tonnes of fins had indeed been landed at the private dock, the whereabouts of the cache is now unknown8.
THE USA

seas that had violated US law. Twenty per cent of the cargo was examined with a view to species identification. Ninety percent of the fins were thought to be from blue sharks, the remainder being from silky sharks and other species31.
PALAU

In May 2003, the government of Palau incinerated 800 shark fins, confiscated from a Taiwanese longliner fishing illegally in Palau’s waters. The seizure weighed almost one tonne. President Remengesau stated that the blaze was intended as a warning to foreign fishing vessels that he would not tolerate shark fishing in Palau’s waters32. Press reports indicate that shark fishing is becoming increasingly common in Palau, and that this is detrimental to the success of Palau’s dive tourism industry 33. While the usual practice in Palau is to sell catches confiscated from illegal fishing operations, the President resisted suggestions that these fins should be sold, saying “Palau is not in the business of selling shark fins, nor do we want to be”.33
AUSTRALIA
Above: Some of the bags containing 8,000 seized fins

In January 2002, two snorkellers in the Shoalhaven River, New South Wales, discovered hundreds of juvenile sharks on the river bed with their fins sliced off 34.

In August 2002 the US Coast Guard escorted into San Diego the King Diamond II, an 82-foot fishing vessel, with 12 tons of prohibited shark fins on board. On arrival in San Diego, Fisheries officials took possession of the fins and interviewed the captain and crew as part of an ongoing investigation30. The King Diamond II did not have any fishing gear on board when it was seized. It was a collection vessel that had picked up products on the high seas from more than 20 Korean longliners. The crew claimed that they had not actually caught the sharks and finned them, and that therefore they had not acted illegally31. However, while possession of fins is not illegal, it was the act of trans-shipping them on the high

‘Palau is not in the business of selling shark fins, nor do we want to be’
© Scott Radway, freelance journalist

Palau’s President Tommy Remengesau, May 2003.

Above: Confiscated shark fins torched in Palau

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©Parque Nacional Galápagos

A Case Study: Costa Rica
Despite a ban on shark finning in its waters, huge quantities of fins are landed in Costa Rica without the corresponding carcasses. Recent cases, such as the discovery of 30 tonnes of fins without carcasses, are described elsewhere in this report. The large number of foreign, particularly Taiwanese, vessels finning sharks just outside Costa Rica’s Exclusive Economic Zone is blamed by local fishers for declines in their shark catches.There are also vessels from Korea, Portugal, Spain, Mexico, Ecuador and Venezuela, some of which are reported to be finning sharks caught by tuna longliners. Some foreign vessels land their catches at private docks: others return home without ever docking in Costa Rica.
SHARK FISHING

Puntarenas is Costa Rica’s largest fishing port and a centre for fin trading.A local fisherman stated that the huge influx of foreign fishing fleets had seriously impacted local fisheries. He was one of a number of fishermen who said that all blue sharks are automatically finned and that all shark bycatch caught on tuna longliners is finned. Local fishermen have become extremely frustrated by the number of foreign vessels finning sharks. Interviews with four of them revealed that:

the carcasses, on each three-month trip. He admitted that shark numbers are decreasing in the waters around Costa Rica, but that enough remain to make it worth while staying on. Seventy percent of his catch is described as “black sharks” while 20% are blue sharks. He estimated that there are around 200 Taiwanese vessels operating from Costa Rica but only half of them are based there permanently.The rest remain at sea for long periods and go straight home with their catch. An official with the Costa Rican Coast Guard stated that incidents such as the 30-tonne fin landing probably happened regularly. He reported that, while national fleets sometimes fin sharks, their capacity is limited. It is the international fleets, with sophisticated technology and a large carrying capacity, that engage in extensive finning operations.
THE FIN TRADE

Top: Sacks of shark fins found on quayside next to Taiwanese vessel Ho Tsai Fa No.18 in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, July 2003. Above: Taiwanese fishing vessel, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

• Local fleets are having to go further out
because the near shore waters are depleted and local fishers are having to spend more money on gasoline and equipment;

Numerous foreign-owned fin trading companies operate in Puntarenas. Some own fishing vessels and market their fins internationally. Others simply collect fins and sell to the larger companies for export. One trader, who exports large quantities of frozen fins, reported that his shark fins are all pre-ordered by traders in east Asia. Not all fins are exported directly to the main markets, however. A dealer in Indonesia told researchers that he had recently purchased 20 tonnes of transshipped fins from Costa Rica.
PRIVATE DOCKS

CONCLUSIONS

• Thirty years ago, their boats were full
after two days: now the catch is very small, even after 15 days. Fishers believe some species are virtually extinct in local waters and they anticipate a local collapse of shark stocks if trends continue;

• Depleted near-shore waters will result in
fishers targeting marine reserves such as Cocos Island; A Taiwanese businessman, who owns numerous vessels in Puntarenas and exports large quantities of fins, reported that his company’s vessels target sharks for their fins and can land “a few tonnes” of fins, minus

Despite laws forbidding the landing of fishery products at private docks, all the foreign-owned fishing vessels land their catches at secure, barricaded docks. Hidden from view, fishing vessels are known to unload huge volumes of shark fins, often late at night, with few or no corresponding carcasses. Following recent local concerns about the lack of transparency about landings, new legislation (16th July 2003) now requires fishing vessels to undergo inspection at nearby Caldera port before proceeding to their private docks. However, there remain deep concerns about the inspection procedures.

Costa Rica, like many of the smaller countries that play host to foreign, industrialised fishing fleets, is losing a valuable resource to a relatively small number of wealthy foreign business interests. The ban on shark finning is not being enforced in Costa Rica because of a lack of resources and, it would seem, a lack of political will.The high level political relationship between Costa Rica and Taiwan may also be compromising efforts to enforce the finning ban. The use of privately-owned docks in Costa Rica facilitates illegal activity and precludes both monitoring of fisheries and law enforcement.The new laws may address this problem, but fin traders the world over are known for their ability to remain one step ahead of the law. Costa Rica’s well-deserved reputation as a prime eco-tourism destination indicates that successive administrations have recognised the immense value of the tourism industry. However, if shark finning continues at current levels, its marine ecosystem will be greatly impoverished and a major attraction for tourists will be lost.35

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© WildAid

© Pretoma

A murky business
Over the past ten years a series of gangland murders has been carried out by individuals engaged in the shark fin trade, highlighting the lengths to which some fin traders will go to ensure continuing profits.
FIJI

On August 25th 2003, it was reported that Fiji police had enlisted the help of Interpol in investigations into the gangland-style killing of three Hong Kong nationals and a Fijian.While the Fiji police would not comment on a possible motive for the attack, a report in Hong Kong's South China Sunday Morning Post quoted police in the Pacific nation as saying the crime was connected to the shark-fin industry. A police spokesman expressed fears about the sophistication of the weapons used in the murders 36. It was later reported that a Chinese businessman was being questioned by the police, who speculated that the incident could have been the result of “a business deal gone wrong”. It was reported that Asian businessmen can buy shark fins for as little as six Fiji (three US) dollars a kilo, which fisheries officials say are then usually sold for more than 20 US dollars a kilo. Police suggested that rivals could have been fighting for space in the lucrative fin trade sector37.
HAWAII

eliminate a rival in the shark fin business. Huynh had control of the shark-fin business at Pier 17 – where fins could be purchased from returning longliners – when another dealer tried to move in on his turf. Huynh offered a friend US$5,000 to shoot the man39.
SOUTH AFRICA

In April 2002, a Chinese cook accused of stabbing to death the captain and first mate aboard a Taiwanese fishing vessel was brought to trial in Honolulu on charges of mutiny on the high seas. Shi Lei was accused of killing the two men during an argument aboard the Full Means II, while the vessel was in international waters.The first mate’s body was found in the ship’s freezer; the captain’s body had been thrown overboard. The reason for the killings had not been established at the time of the arrest but human rights abuses at sea and the practice of catching sharks and slicing off their fins were cited in the press as being connected to the case38. In December 1999, shark fin dealer Hung Van Huynh appeared in a Hawaii court accused of hiring a hit man to

In the early 1990s the Endangered Species Protection Unit of the South African Police arrested a Taiwanese man, Michael Shen, for possession of rhino horn40. Shen later became involved in the shark fin trade. In May 1994 Shen was kidnapped and his body was later found in bushes, in an incident believed to have been connected to his activities in the fin trade41. In December 1996 two Taiwanese businessmen – Shin Yi and Li Ko Wei – office-bearers in a major shark fin syndicate – died in a hail of bullets at Cape Town harbour41. This left the syndicate vulnerable to a take-over by a rival gang, so remaining members decided to bring in a “fixer” from Taiwan, a man named Cheng Cheng-Chi, alias “White Monkey”, who already had a fearsome reputation in Taiwan. It was believed that he would be able to see off any rivals and maintain total control of the trade41. In May 1999 South African police were given a tip-off about a gangland murder, which led to the discovery of the bodies of a Taiwanese businessman and his son, each killed with a single shot to the head. Liao Shing-Hsiung Hsiung and his son, Liao Jen-wu, were the owners of the Eternity Shipping and Chandling company42. A Police spokesman said that they were investigating a possible link between the deaths and the lucrative trade in smuggling shark fin and abalone from South Africa to East Asia, adding that Chinese Triad gangs had moved in force into what was previously a local cottage industry42.Three years later, “White Monkey” was arrested in Cape Town for the murder of the Taiwanese father and son, and was repatriated to Taiwan43. In February 2001, the owner of a Cape Town shark-fin exporting business was robbed of 7,000 Rand, plus shark fins valued at 40,000 Rand, by four men

Above: Fins drying at Cape Town Docks

“There is quite a lot of Taiwanese, Hong Kong and Chinese and Korean fishing vessels that ply Fiji waters and they bring in quite a lot of shark fins . . . and they re-export them to China and Hong Kong at very lucrative prices indeed”.
Fiji Police spokesperson Mesake Koroi, speaking about a gangland murder, August 2003.

posing as shark fin salesmen.The owner was bound hand and foot, while a worker was stabbed in the arm and back by the escaping robbers44. In February 2003, a warrant was issued for the arrest of a Chinese woman, Zhu Jing, who went into hiding after witnessing a murder connected to what the South African press referred to as the “Chinese Mafia sharkfin war”45. A shootout at the Taiwan City Karaoke Bar in Cape Town resulted in charges of attempted murder and the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. One of the accused, Su Chan Chun, was sentenced to house arrest and was subsequently murdered at his home, witnessed by Jing45.

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© McCoubrey/WildAid

A Case Study: Indonesia
Many of the 6,000 inhabited islands of Indonesia are home to extensive shark fishing – and finning – operations.There is a handful of shark fin trading “hotspots”, where fins from surrounding islands are collected for export to east Asia.There are at least two starting-off points for illegal incursions into Australian waters, where sharks are routinely finned. Indonesia is unusual in that there are fin traders who process shark fins before exporting them. Normally, traders in Hong Kong and Taiwan prefer to import whole dried or frozen fins and do the processing themselves.
ROTE

Left: A fishing harbour, Indonesia

Rote is a small island to the west of Timor and is reputed (along with Kupang) to be one of the main starting points for illegal fishing incursions into Australian waters. Papela is the largest fishing village on Rote, where sharks are the main target catch and shark fin is the main marine item traded from the village. Papela has around 100 longline boats that target sharks, sixty of which are owned by one individual. He holds most of the fin stocks and can supply up to 300kg of dried fins per month during the season from his own boats and up to 500kg if he collects from other traders. Most of the fins landed in Rote are taken to Surabaya, which has a large Chinese population and is one of the main centres for fins. Australia’s waters are a popular destination for the fishermen, as they can be reached in “a day and a night” and are described as having plentiful shark stocks. Initial investigations reveal that some, but by no means all, sharks that are caught locally are landed whole. However, reports from Australia indicate that shark finning is prevalent in the illegal fisheries operated by Indonesian vessels and the Indonesian fishers themselves admit to finning sharks on these incursions. Despite repeated arrests by the Australian Coast Guard, and the subsequent destruction of their fishing boats, fishermen have later returned to Australia to catch sharks and insist that they will continue to do so, since the penalties are “light”.A fisherman who had been arrested twice in

Australia claimed that even those fishers sentenced to prison terms were given a small wage for working, and were allowed to play football and attend English classes.
KUPANG

Kupang is a local fin collection centre, from where fins are sent to Surabaya or Ujung Pandang.Wooden longliner and seine boats fish the waters around this area but they also go further afield, to Australia. On a “good” trip, each boat can land 100kg of fins and one of the fin dealers reported being able to supply between 500 and 1,000 kgs of fin per month.
BALI

Bali is a major fishing centre and home port for many of the commercial fisheries operating throughout eastern Indonesia. Many of the boats are longliners, but there are also extensive seine operations.The main fisheries are for tuna, swordfish and mahi-mahi and the Ministry of Fisheries in Indonesia has recently issued new fishing licenses to Taiwanese and Japanese companies.These are believed by locals to take huge quantities of fins.A Taiwanese boat owner in Bali reported that sharks are always finned on his fleet. Indonesian law requires that even wholly foreign-owned fishing boats must be given Indonesian names and fly the Indonesian flag, but a fin dealer in Bali reported that there were 200 Taiwanese-owned longliners stationed there.An unknown number of longliners in Bali are Japanese-owned.

Bali’s longline fleet is stationed at Tanjong Benoa.A fisherman there admitted that shark carcasses were all thrown away.Three fin dealers claimed to be able to provide around 4-5 tonnes per month between them. One dealer had 200-300 kgs of very large, frozen fins and a further tonne of dried fin, some of which was being processed on the spot. He described them as being from oceanic white tips, threshers, blacktips and blue sharks. His fins are all sent through Surabaya.A visit to a shark fin warehouse revealed that another dealer, who exports directly to Singapore, also processes fins on the premises. He had 3-4 tonnes of dried fins at the time. It was reported in Bali that shark cartilage is now increasingly in demand. After fin removal, shark bodies are often filleted and the cartilage removed.The rest of the body is then thrown out. Much of Bali’s fin trade is controlled by Taiwanese interests and it is they who control shark fin prices in Bali.There is a local ‘Taiwan Town’ in Bali, known as ‘Sesetan’, where all the Taiwanese fishermen and businessmen reside. However, Bali is also home to a large number of Singaporean Triad members. Researchers were informed by a Taiwanese dealer that traders could buy fins directly from the very large companies. However, if buying on a smaller scale, they needed to buy from “representatives of the police” as did all of the Taiwanese and Japanese companies. The dealer also reported that, although

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© WildAid

A CASE STUDY: INDONESIA

SHARK FINNING REGULATIONS

mainland China is the principal destination for shark fins, local dealers needed the assistance of Hong Kong traders to get the fins to the mainland market. Mainland China’s tax laws on shark fins are very stringent and only the Hong Kong dealers know how to smuggle fins into mainland China.
SURABAYA

EXISTING SHARK FINNING REGULATIONS
A number of individual nations – and one region – have enacted legislation on shark finning: BRAZIL: fins and carcasses may be landed separately, provided that the fins weigh no more than 5% of the whole weight of the body. It is illegal to unload, trade, keep, process or transport fins whose weight does not conform to this ratio. Fins and carcasses must be weighed upon arrival at port and all fins must be unloaded. It is illegal to keep on board any shark fins from a previous trip. COSTA RICA: sharks must be landed with fins attached. Moves are underway in Costa Rica to amend this law so that fins may be landed separately within a certain weight ratio but conservationists are opposed to this. ECUADOR: shark finning is totally prohibited in the Ecuador. OMAN: it is strictly forbidden to throw any shark part or shark waste in the sea or on the shore. It is also prohibited to separate shark fins and tails unless this is done according to the conditions set by the competent authority. No shark part may be handled or marketed or exported without a license from the competent authority. SOUTH AFRICA: sharks must be landed with fins attached if they have been caught in South Africa’s waters. However, fins from sharks caught in international waters may be landed separately from carcasses. This presents some enforcement difficulties, since there is no way of knowing where the sharks were caught. THE USA: fins and carcasses may be landed separately but the fins must weigh no more than 5% of the “dressed” weight of the shark, that is, headless and gutted. In cases where the 5% ratio is inappropriate (presumably where the species is exceptional), there is a derogation allowing the correspondence of fins to carcasses to be measured in terms of the number of fins per carcass, rather than weight. THE EU: sharks should be landed with fins attached, but masters of vessels can apply for a “special fishing permit” to allow on-board removal of fins. In such cases, vessels may land fins separately – even at different ports – provided that the fins weigh no more than 5% of the whole weight of the shark. These regulations will be reviewed in early 2005. MEXICO: a ban on shark finning is under consideration. Current discussions are centred on a possible requirement that only whole sharks should be landed. AUSTRALIA States and Territories are responsible for regulations governing their own waters – out to three nautical miles offshore. Central government deals with ‘Commonwealth’ (Federal) waters, from three to 200 nautical miles offshore. New South Wales: since June 1999 the law requires that all sharks be landed with fins attached, even when the shark has been cut into portions. All portions other than head, gills and guts must remain on board until the vessel berths. Northern Territory: there is no ban on finning, although a total ban on the incidental take of sharks or shark products in a range of commercial fisheries will probably have had the effect of restricting finning to some extent. Queensland: a finning ban came into force in December 2002. No sharks may be taken by the Trawl Fishery. Possession of sharks in other fisheries requires sharks to be divided in a manner that allows an inspector to count the number of sharks. It is prohibited to take, possess or sell shark fin unless authorised. South Australia: no finning legislation yet exists but they are under consideration. Tasmania: shark finning was banned in November 2001. All shark fins must be landed with the corresponding body. Western Australia: since October 2000, possession and landing of any shark other than a whole shark has been prohibited. Victoria: in 1972, Victoria introduced a requirement that sharks be landed with all fins attached. Commonwealth: finning is banned in tuna longline fisheries, as well as in all Commonwealth fisheries where sharks are incidentally caught.

One of the four main fin dealers in Surabaya hires collectors to gather up fins for him throughout Indonesia. He trades in both processed and raw fins and produces 2-3 tonnes per month. He admitted that, while some shark meat is retained and sold as salted fish, sharks are finned extensively in fisheries operating out of Surabaya.Another Surabaya-based businessman told researchers that supplies of shark fin were dwindling and that he could now obtain only a quarter of the volume of the fins available several years ago.
CONCLUSIONS

Research in only a handful of fishing villages and towns in Indonesia reveals that the fin trade is highly lucrative, totally uncontrolled and firmly in the hands of local and foreign mafia-type organisations. Shark finning is routine, both in Indonesian waters and on incursions into Australian waters. Trade statistics reveal that, during 2000 and 2001, Hong Kong imported 1,400 tonnes of shark fins, (both with and without cartilage) from Indonesia. Singapore does not record shark fin imports from Indonesia but a number of traders in Indonesia have reported that they export large quantities directly to Singapore. Taiwan’s official statistics record extremely small volumes of fin imports from Indonesia which is initially surprising, given the number of Taiwanese fin traders in Indonesia. However, many of them reported exporting their fins through Hong Kong in order to reach the main market, mainland China.This may explain the low levels of recorded trade with Taiwan. The geography of Indonesia and the fact that shark fishing is unregulated suggests that finning and trading in fins will continue at high levels until shark depletion makes it uneconomic. Indications are that fins are becoming more difficult to obtain, but conditions have not yet reached a critical point.35

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SHARK FIN SEIZURES

SHARK FIN SEIZURES
NAMIBIA
In February 2003 Namibian Police confiscated more than 800 boxes of contraband cigarettes from two Chinese nationals. Hidden with the cigarettes were large quantities of shark fins and 65 kgs of abalone, reported to have come from South Africa46.

80 kilograms. Chern Whan Yee was charged with avoiding customs duty48.

GUAM
In 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard conducting a routine port patrol seized thousands of pounds of shark fins from foreign fishing companies operating at Guam’s commercial port. The fins were stored in containers at the port. In one container alone, there were 4,400 pounds (c. two metric tonnes) of fins. This seizure was one of a series that has occurred since the US shark finning regulations came into force in 2000. Although Guam does not itself have any large-scale commercial fishing companies, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia are known to operate commercial fishing vessels in the region49.

THAILAND
In January 2002, a Taiwanese fisherman was arrested in possession of 42 shark fins. After a tip-off, Phuket Marine Police arrested the man as he moored his boat, “Jufusun”, at Rassada Port. The man, subsequently identified by police as Chua Teng Juan, left the boat carrying a large, white, bloodstained bag. When police asked him to open it, they found the shark fins47. Less than a month later, another tip-off led to the arrest of a second Taiwanese fisherman in possession of 115 shark fins weighing

have smuggled 2.3 tons of fins into China and to have sold them on the domestic market for a huge profit 50. The Chinese government has imposed heavy tariffs on shark fins to restrain imports. Fins may be imported tax-free, but only on condition that they are then re-exported. Fins imported into China for domestic sale are subject to heavy tariffs. The estimated value of the smuggled fin was US$500,000, representing an evasion of US$35,000 of tax 50.

SOUTH AFRICA
In July 2001, three containers of illegal fish and fish products were offloaded from a Taiwanese fishing vessel and seized in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. One of the containers held four million Rands’ worth of shark fins. In total there were 80 sacks, each weighing 100 kilograms, filled with shark fins. The cargo was falsely declared as comprising 80 tons of Albacore or skipjack tuna51.

CHINA
In March 2001, three aquatic processing workshops in Nanhai City, south China, were discovered by Customs officials to have smuggled a large quantity of shark fins. The three companies were found to

The EU in denial
There is undoubtedly a great deal of finning on board EU vessels, particularly those of Spain. No EU Member State has yet admitted that vessels flying its flag are finning sharks but a simple calculation reveals that the EU’s exports of shark fin to the major east Asian centres cannot be accounted for by the declared landings of shark in the EU. A great deal of this discrepancy can be attributed to Spanish vessels. MAINLAND CHINA: Between 1995 and 2002 inclusive, EU Member States exported a total of 6,542,835 kgs dried shark fins to mainland China, of which Spain's contribution was 6,254,936 kgs. These weights appear in the category 0305.5920, Dried sharks’ fins, not smoked52. HONG KONG: During the period 1997-2001 inclusive, total EU exports to Hong Kong in category 0305.5950, Shark fins, with or without skin, with cartilage, amounted to 1, 921,246 kgs, of which Spain’s contribution was 1,865,236 kgs52. During the period 1997-2001 inclusive, Spain was the only EU Member State to export fins to Hong Kong in category 0305.5960, Shark fins, with or without

skin, without cartilage.The total exported by Spain to Hong Kong was 801,604 kgs52. SINGAPORE: According to Singapore’s Trade Development Board, the top two exporters to Singapore in 2001 of prepared fins, ready for use, were the UK and Spain, each exporting over 60,000 kgs in that year. After some months of denial that EU vessels are engaged in finning, the EU Fisheries Commission has finally reacted to pressure by enacting finning regulations that cover not only EU-registered vessels fishing in EU waters but also those which fish all over the world as part of an extensive range of fishing agreements, particularly with developing countries. However, the scope of these new regulations is severely restricted, giving rise to serious doubt about their likely effectiveness. Masters of vessels who wish to continue removing sharks’ fins on board may apply for a “special fishing permit” to do so53. Furthermore, fins and carcasses may be landed and traded at different ports.The sole stipulation is that Masters should enter into their logbooks detailed records of the volume of carcasses and fins landed and sold at each port. In theory, officials at all

Above: Basking shark fin on display in Singapore

the ports of landing will weigh the carcasses and fins to ensure that the fins weigh no more than 5% of the whole weight of the shark53. Even if accurate logbook records are kept, which is highly doubtful, and even if the fins and carcasses are weighed, this 5% ratio will allow EU crews to fin two out of every three sharks that they catch, while still appearing to abide by the rules (see section on fin weight ratios).

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© WildAid

SHARK FIN TRADERS

Shark fin traders – more denial
Press conferences and workshops held in east Asia to highlight the problem of shark finning have occasionally been characterised by a denial on the part of fin traders that finning even occurs. One such trader claimed that film footage of a shark being finned had been faked. A brief glance at the profits being made from the shark fin trade may help to explain this apparent unwillingness to take responsibility for current trends. A recently-published report on the dried seafood trade in Asia has revealed that one trader, who considers himself a medium-sized operator, had a turnover of $771,000 US per month. Given a profit margin of between 10-15%, one of Hong Kong’s largest dealers, rumoured to have a turnover of $129 million US per year, could be making an annual profit of at least $12 million US54. To say that shark fin traders have no immediate economic incentive to conserve sharks would seem a truism. However, while many of them deny that supply is becoming more problematic54, it seems clear that the decline in shark stocks will soon have a negative effect on the trade, if it has not done so already. Between 1996 and 2000, the shark fin trade grew by more than five percent a year in Hong Kong, while the 2001 figures show significant decreases in both the Hong Kong and the global trade volume54, which may be a result of declining shark stocks.This may not be of concern to those who have already made many millions from the depletion of the world’s shark stocks but it could signal trouble for newcomers and smaller operators.

Right: Dried shark fins on sale in Taiwan

HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF?
© WildAid © Environmental Investigation Agency

Above: George Poon (taken from video)

Above: The Poons’ shark fin shop, Hong Kong

Above: Shark fins are often served whole in order to prove that they are the real thing

In 2000, WildAid was informed that the notorious Poon family had become involved in the shark fin trade in Hong Kong55. The Poons are alleged to have been responsible for smuggling vast quantities of illegal ivory from Africa, through the UAE and on to Hong Kong in the 1980s56. One of the Poon brothers, Tat Wah (“George”), is reputed to be one of Hong Kong’s main fin dealers55. The fin trade is conducted mainly in cash and would-be dealers are required to have large amounts of ready cash at their disposal in order to enter the fin trade. Poon, using the enormous wealth he had amassed from the slaughter of thousands of elephants, was easily able to place himself at the centre of the shark fin business in Hong Kong55.

The ruthless nature of the illegal international ivory trade and the speed with which a handful of Hong Kong ivory dealers managed to decimate the elephant populations of both Africa and Asia should serve as an ominous warning of things to come. Unless the global community acts immediately to prevent it, Poon and his like will continue to amass their private fortunes – at the expense not only of the world’s shark stocks but of the many developing and developed countries that are making a concerted effort to conserve their shark stocks. These efforts, as has been witnessed on the African savannah and in the forests of Asia, will inevitably be undermined by the greed and selfishness of such individuals unless action is taken now.

© WildAid

© WildAid

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HOW TO BAN SHARK FINNING
© Michael Bjornbak

HOW MUCH DO A SHARK’S FINS WEIGH?
In some countries where fins may be landed separately from carcasses, shark landings data have led to a requirement that fins should weigh no more than 5% of the “dressed” weight of the shark, that is, the body minus the head and guts. Data from Australia, Costa Rica and the USA show that this is a reasonable ratio, given that the weight of a shark’s fins across a wide range of species rarely reaches, let alone exceeds, 5% of the dressed weight . A reasonable ratio of fins to whole weight would be only 2-3%. Sharks’ heads and, in particular, their livers are very heavy in proportion to the rest of their carcasses, so this distinction is critical. Regulations in place in the EU and in Brazil, stipulating that the weight of the fins should not exceed 5% of the whole weight of the shark, are therefore inadequate. They will allow millions more sharks to be finned, while crews will still be able to produce the “correct” ratio of fins to carcasses on the quayside.

How to ban shark finning
The most effective requirement would be for all sharks to be landed whole, with no exceptions.This would not only simplify enforcement and eliminate cheating but it would also provide very good fisheries data, since sharks with their fins attached are far easier to identify by species. Of all the countries known to have enacted finning regulations, only Costa Rica requires whole landings, along with some States and Territories of Australia. Mexico looks set to require whole shark landings but the legislation is not yet in place. Landing fins and carcasses separately allows room for cheating and it also hampers the collection of much-needed data on shark catches. Most countries have failed to monitor their shark catches at all, let alone by species, despite the 1999 UN FAO’s International Plan of Action for Sharks, which recommends that they do so. Landing fins and carcasses separately makes species identification difficult and, in some cases, impossible. Because of the highly migratory nature of many shark species (particularly those species which are most commonly finned, such as the blue shark), the best way to ensure protection from finning for the maximum number of sharks would be to enact a ban on finning not only within the waters of individual nations but on the high seas as well.The efforts of many nations to prohibit finning, particularly those in the developing world whose resources are

Above: A favourite for finning: blue shark

limited, are being compromised by the fact that sharks can still be finned on the high seas and within the Exclusive Economic Zones and coastal waters of many individual nations.

Would a finning ban protect sharks?
It has been argued that a ban on shark finning would be pointless because the sharks, once caught in nets or on lines, will die anyway, regardless of whether or not they are finned. However, data from the Hawaii-based tuna and swordfish longline fleet showed that 86% of sharks caught as bycatch were still alive when they arrived on deck57. Research carried out in Brazil showed that, from a total of 508 sharks of different species observed in longline fisheries, 88% were still alive when they landed on deck58. Taking into account some post-release mortality resulting from stress or injury, it is clear that a very large percentage of sharks caught on longlines would survive if they were not finned.

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME
WildAid’s recent research in the consumer markets reveals that shark fin is going down-market. Having gained a reputation over centuries as a symbol of wealth and success, soup and other products made from shark fin are now becoming commonplace.

• In a restaurant in Quingdao on mainland
China, a set menu consisting of abalone, bird’s nest and shark fin soup was advertised at a cost of just US$2460. and Shanghai sell 12-gramme boxes of fin fibre for US$6.5060.
© WildAid

• Dried shark fin retailers in Quingdao • Press reports from Singapore reveal
that the economic recession has prompted consumers to opt for cheaper, mass produced shark fins61. While it may be argued that this development will reduce the “mystique” of shark fin and, thereby, its consumption, it seems far more likely that it will simply Above: Shark fin catfood, Japan

• Singapore now boasts $8.99
All-You-Can-Eat shark fin buffets59.

• Japanese consumers can now buy
shark fin bread, sweet shark fin cookies, shark fin sushi, instant shark fin noodles at US$4.20 per serving and, perhaps most alarming of all, shark fin cat food60.

encourage consumers to believe that they can still buy into the symbolism of shark fin but at a price affordable to all.

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Conclusions and recommendations
Conclusions
While there are many factors influencing the global decline in shark populations, there is no doubt that shark finning is a major – and entirely unnecessary – contributor.The shark fin trade has become so lucrative that the practice of finning is now no longer confined to sharks taken as bycatch. Sharks are increasingly being caught for their fins alone and, because the meat is of far lesser value, the shark is often dumped at sea. Shark finning is contrary to the principles of the UN FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (Article 7.2.2(g)) and to the guiding principles and aims of the UN FAO International Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks). Shark finning is also contrary to the spirit of the preamble to the UN Law of the Sea, which stresses the need for “an equitable international economic order which takes into account the interests and needs of mankind as a whole and, in particular, the special interests and needs of developing countries”.The dumping of millions of sharks at sea has resulted in significantly decreased shark catches in many developing countries. Fishers in eastern India and on the east and west coasts of Africa have reported serious declines in their catches, dating back to the arrival of large, industrial (and usually foreign) fishing vessels off their coastlines. Many of these vessels breach fishing agreements by operating well within the area set aside for local fishers. Food security among many coastal communities in the developing world is being compromised by the increasing demand for shark fin soup, a symbol of luxury wealth and generosity among east Asian communities worldwide. It is a luxury that sharks – and those who depend upon them for protein – cannot afford. Sharks are becoming increasingly attractive to recreational divers, bringing millions of dollars in foreign exchange to countries in both the developed and developing world. By contrast, while the trade in shark fins has created a handful of millionaires in Hong Kong and Taiwan as a result of inflated profit margins, it has not

“The IUCN Shark Specialist Group considers that shark finning threatens many shark stocks, the stability of marine ecosystems, sustainable traditional fisheries, food security and socio-economically important recreational fisheries.” SSG Finning Position Statement, May 2003
contributed in any meaningful way to development in the poorer shark fishing nations. In recent years, divers have reported a perceptible decline in shark sightings in many parts of the world and some have reported seeing the sea-bed “littered” with the carcasses of finned sharks. Shark finning does not discriminate by species or by age/size.While species and stocks vary in abundance and distribution, those of the greatest conservation concern and least widespread distribution will continue to be taken in diminishing numbers as bycatch in fisheries for more abundant fish species and, as a result, could be driven to extremely low levels, if not to extinction. Shark finning precludes the collection of the species-specific data that are urgently needed if global shark landings are to be monitored in any meaningful way.Without such data, it will be impossible to implement sustainable shark fisheries management as required under various international agreements. Recent research using computer modelling has shown that the removal of sharks from their ecosystems could have devastating and unpredictable consequences for the abundance of commerciallyimportant fish stocks. Sharks, as apex predators, regulate the abundance of other fish and are therefore keystone species in the health of our ocean ecosystems.The practice of shark finning is capable of removing entire stocks of sharks within a very short space of time. Many species of shark are highly migratory by nature.They are a truly global resource.The efforts of a growing number of nations to enforce laws prohibiting shark finning in their own waters are consistently undermined by the fact that sharks can travel many thousands of kilometres into waters where finning is legal.

Recommendations
Many steps need to be taken globally to conserve sharks, including stock assessments, research on landings and species composition, bycatch reduction, the imposition of strict catch quotas and seasonal and area closures where necessary, as well as trade restrictions, where appropriate, and improved Customs data at species level. However, action on shark finning cannot wait for these steps to be taken. For some species it may already be too late, but for many others there is still time. Shark finning is a global problem and only a concerted international effort will bring about a global solution. In a world where growing human populations are facing declining fish stocks, throwing away 95% of a valuable source of protein for the sake of an unnecessary luxury is not, or should not be, an option.

The United Nations General Assembly should vote to impose an immediate prohibition on shark finning and the trans-shipment of fins on the high seas. Individual nations should enact domestic legislation prohibiting shark finning and trans-shipment within their own jurisdictions and this legislation must be rigorously enforced. It is imperative that more countries implement the FAO’s International Plan of Action for Sharks. Countries in the developing world with significant shark fisheries should be given every encouragement – and funding where needed – to carry out research on their shark fisheries as a first step towards devising Plans of Action.

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References
1. Collapse and conservation of shark populations in the Northwest Atlantic, Julia. K Baum, Ransom A. Myers, Daniel G. Kehler, Boris Worm, Shelton J. Harley, Penny A. Doherty, Science, Vol. 299, 17th January 2003 2. Heessen, H.J.L. (editor) 2003. Development of Elasmobranch Assessments. DELASS. European Commission DG Fish Study Contract 99/055, Final Report, January 2003 3. Rapid worldwide depletion of predatory fish communities, Ransom A. Myers & Boris Worm, Nature Vol 423, 15th May 2003 4. Report of the Consultation on the Management of Fishing Capacity, Shark Fisheries and Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Rome, Italy, 26-30 October 1998 5. The End of the Line? WildAid 2001 6. Review of Shark Finning in Australian Waters, Bureau of Rural Sciences for Agriculture, Fisheries and ForestryAustralia, Nov. 2001. 7. Pers.comm. Dr Silvia Pinca, Marine Science Program Coordinator, College of the Marshall Islands 8. Pers. Comm. Randall Arauz, Pretoma, Costa Rica 9. The Australian, 17th February 2003 10. The Australian, 30th December 2002 11. Northern Territory News, 24th January 2003 12. ABC News, 6th February 2003 13. Northern Territory News, 6th February 2003 14. ABC Regional News, 31st March 2003 15. Cairns Post, 15th May 2003 16. ABC News, 2nd May 2003 17. Australian Associated Press, 14th May 2003 18. Adelaide Advertiser, 2nd June 2003 19. Northern Territory News, 2nd July, 2003 20. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 21st August 2003 21. ABC News, 16th September 2003. 22. Sunday Territorian, 17th September 2003. 23. The Daily News, 5th July 1997 24. Channelnews Asia, 6th October 2002 25. Pers.comm. Cecilia Falconi, Ecuador 26. Pers.comm. Godfrey Merlen, Ecuador 27. ENS, 19th June 2001 28. Charles Darwin Foundation, 20th July 2001 29. Reuters Limited, 13th September 2003. 30. Lloyds Information Casualty Report, 26th August 2002 31. Pers. comm. Paul Ortiz, General Counsel for NOAA, and Dale Jones, Chief of Enforcement for NOAA Fisheries to Marie Levine, Shark Research Institute, 13th January 2003 32. BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, 8th May 2003 33. Pacific Daily News, 12th May 2003 34. Sunday Telegraph, 6th January 2002 35. WildAid shark fin trade report, in litt. 36. Agence France Presse, 25th August 2003 37. Agence France Presse, 26th August 2003 38. Associated Press Online, 10th April 2002 39. Star-Bulletin, Hawaii, 3rd December 1999 40. Under Fire: Elephants in the Front Line, EIA 1992 41. Cape Dragons, Carte Blanche TV, South Africa, 5th May 2002 42. Reuters, 21st May 1999 43. CNA, South Africa, undated 2002 44. SAPA, 23rd February 2001 45. SAPA 13th February 2003 46. The Namibian, 6th February 2003 47. The Nation, 17th January 2002 48. The Nation, 8th February 2002 49. Pacific Daily News, Hagatna, 16th August 2002 50. South China Morning Post, 27th March 2001 51. Dispatch Online, 5th July 2001 52. World Trade Atlas 53. Council Regulation (EC) No. 1185/2003 54. Clarke, Shelley. Trade in Asian Dried Seafood: Characterization, Estimation and Implications for Conservation. WCS Working Paper No. 22, December 2002 55. Pers.comm. Taiwanese fin trader to WildAid, 2000 56. A System of Extinction, Environmental Investigation Agency 1989 57. Russell Dunn, M.M.A, Assistant Director, Ocean Wildlife Campaign, Washington, DC. Testimony before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans, 21st October 1999 58. Amorim, A.F., Arfelli, C.A., and Fagundes, L. 1998. Pelagic elasmobranchs caught by longliners off southern Brazil during 1974 – 97; an overview. Marine & Freshwater Research 49:621-32 59. Pers.comm.Tony Wu, Singapore 60. WildAid internal report, March 2003 61. Lian He Zao Bao, Singapore, 9th February 2003

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450 Pacific Avenue, Suite 201, San Francisco CA 94133 Tel 415 - 834 -3174 Fax 415 - 834 -1759 info@wildaid.org www.wildaid.org

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