Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 22nd 2014 Contents A39
Saturday, February 22, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The T&T Guardian contacted
the Ministry of Food Production
to find out whether there were
laws on shark finning or
regulating shark landing.
Director Christine Chan Ashing
said the country did not have a
shark-finning industry nor did it
contribute to that activity, as
shark fins were not a valuable
"There is a transition shipment
port in T&T and there are
several vessels bearing various
national flags, operating from
there. There are numerous
opportunities for products to be
mislabeled and countries of
origin to be misidentified.
Pressed for information on the
status of the country's shark
stocks, Chan Ashing declined to
give further information as the
division was not allowed to
speak to the media.
De Verteuil, however,
maintained that shark finning in
T&T is very much alive. He
shared a number of e-mails
between himself and Jennifer
Sawada, senior associate of
Global Shark Conservation,
which confirms reports from the
international ocean conservation
organisation Oceana that T&T
was ranked 19th in 2010 for
exports of shark fins to Hong
Kong and sixth in 2011.
From Page A38
"It is not something that many
people in T&T know about and
we have started the campaign to
bring about a higher level of aware-
ness so people can make the indi-
vidual decision not to support or
encourage shark finning by pur-
This method of harvesting shark
fins is cruel.
"Once the fins are cut off, if
harvesters do not kill them, their
bodies are thrown back into the
ocean and they can no longer
swim, hunt, or breathe.
"Sharks also reproduce slowly,
so they are unable to recuperate
quickly from population losses,
hence the fear that many species
will be extinct by 2050."
He explained how sharks are
vital to the marine ecosystem.
"Sharks are in crisis. According
to the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature (IUCN),
numbers of some species have
dwindled by more than 95 per
"It should also be noted that
sharks are important as they reg-
ulate the quantity and health of
other marine life, helping to keep
fish stocks in the ocean healthy,
but researchers fear if activities
such as shark finning and culling
continue, by 2050 many species
will be extinct."
A number of countries have
banned shark finning and the trade of
shark products and others, like Palau,
the Maldives, Honduras, the Marshall
Islands and the Bahamas, which recog-
nise the biological and economic value
of preserving sharks, have created shark
sanctuaries in their waters.
Supporting the Papa Bois campaign
is Trinidadian marine biologist Diva
Amon, who is based at the University
of Hawaii and has written extensively
on shark conservation. She said via e-
mail she backs Papa Bois s efforts 100
Amon said the number of sharks
killed globally each year is estimated
at 100 million. This unsustainable catch
is fuelled by the demand for shark fins,
liver oil and shark meat. Shark liver oil
is used in cosmetics and herbal sup-
plements, while fish oil tablets and
shark meat are eaten in many coun-
Both and Amon and de Verteuil noted
that T&T was a signatory to the Con-
vention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and
Flora (Cites), which addresses the issue
of shark finning as well as the ivory
trade, wildlife enforcement monitory
system, wildlife conservation, wildlife
management and wildlife smuggling.
De Verteuil acknowledged that the
campaign may not be well received by
all, especially since shark finning is a
viable business for some, but said that
action was necessary.
He said his group had considered
many of the issues surrounding shark-
fishery management in T&T and they
have concluded that the most effective
strategy in reducing shark mortality is
to close the fishery and establish a shark
sanctuary on the island. But it will take
a complete national moratorium to get
to this point, as shark fishery manage-
ment is notoriously difficult to enforce
and is resource intensive.
"The rebuilding of shark populations
via management would require strict
controls on exploitation rates, the pro-
tection of critical habitats, monitoring
and substantial research.
"We feel that these measures would
be more difficult to implement nation-
ally than a complete moratorium. A
moratorium requires a legislative frame-
work and enforcement at landing
points," the two agreed.
They are proposing a ban on all shark
products (meat, fins, liver oil and other
products). And legislation and enforce-
ment at ports will be required.
"A well-enforced sanctuary in our
waters will be beneficial to our marine
ecosystems, commercial fish stocks and
tourism industry through increased
revenue from eco-tourism, as well as
promote us globally as an environmen-
tally-conscious nation," said Amon.
Campaign to help citizens make informed decisions
Marc de Verteuil
Sharks are important as they regulate the quantity and health of other marine life.
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