A shark protection group in Tahiti has written an open letter to the French Polynesian government after the discovery of cut up frozen sharks in the hold of a stranded Chinese fishing vessel.
French Polynesia was the world’s largest shark sanctuary and by law it’s forbidden to possess or transport protected species, be they dead or alive.
Last month, the Chinese ship Shen Gang Shun 1 ran aground on the reef of Arutua atoll and as salvage operations began, the mayor of Arutua and other fishermen discovered in its hold a number of frozen sharks stitched up with cut-off fins inside them.
The government claimed the Shen Gang Shun 1 had been repaired and restocked in Papeete in mid-March and left with 15 tonnes of frozen fish on board along with 26 tonnes of bait.
Te Ora Naho also questioned how it could happen that after the vessel was inspected it was allowed to leave with frozen sharks in its hold.
Papeete, which is about 400 kilometres southwest of Arutua, is a key transshipment port for the Chinese fishing fleet in the southeast Pacific.
10 facts about shark finning…
- An estimated 100 million sharks are killed for their fins every year.
2. Shark finning violates the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
3. Shark populations have decreased by 60 to 90 percent in just the last 15 years because of the shark fin trade.
4. The shark fin trade is a multi-billion dollar industry. One pound of dried shark fin can sell for around $300 or more.
5. Sharks are not only killed for their fins, but also for their teeth, jaws, liver oil and cartilage. According to Sea Shepherd, these parts are made into leather for shoes and belts, medicines, skin care products and cosmetics.
6. Since shark populations take a considerable amount of time to recover (as sharks themselves mature within seven to 20 years), it is nearly impossible for them to bounce back as quickly as they are removed from oceans, leaving entire ecosystems at great risk.
7. One of the largest hubs of shark finning is Hong Kong where 50 to 80% of fins are traded globally. Today, the European Union provides 27% of the entire fins to Hong Kong.
8. Sharks play a pivotal role in keeping a balance in the ecosystem by keeping the prey population in check. Shark’s extinction could mean that they have a damaging effect on marine ecosystems.
9. These shark fins do not provide any taste but they are highly in demand as they’re served in special occasions in Asian cultures.
10. Sharks that are frequently finned are thresher, blue sharks, blacktip, mako, hammerhead, sandbar, bull, porbeagle sharks.