Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 23rd 2014 Contents A10
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt March 23, 2014
CHARLES KONG SOO
Andrew Zimmern s announcement
on the Bizarre Foods Trinidad
episode on the Travel Channel Net-
work that shark and bake from
Richard s in Maracas Bay was the
best and most awesome fish sandwich he had
ever eaten has been a boon to the T&T tourism
industry but a bane to shark conservationists.
Angelo Villagomez, manager of the US-based
conservation group, Pew Charitable Trusts, told
the Sunday Guardian via e-mail that scientists
reported in the Marine Policy 2013 journal that
100 million sharks are killed every year.
He said this represented between 6.4 per cent
and 7.9 per cent of the total global population of
sharks killed each year.
Villagomez said the exploitation rate exceeded
the rebound rate for many shark populations, which
averaged 4.9 per cent each year.
He said when sharks were killed faster than their
natural ability to reproduce, populations decline
and as a result nearly every stock assessment for
large shark species that are commercially fished
has shown declines.
Villagomez said sharks were not like other fish
like tuna, the life histories of many targeted shark
species have more in common with marine mam-
He said sharks were slow growing, late to mature,
and produce few young, yet for decades they have
been managed like other fish such as tuna.
Sharma: Shark and bake good for the economy
Speaking to the Sunday Guardian on Tuesday,
Tourism Minister Chandresh Sharma said T&T s
unique blend of ethnic cuisine had gained an inter-
national reputation and was attractive to food
tourists who came to sample the diverse culinary
bandaras (food feasts), among them shark and
Sharma said T&T has become one of the pre-
ferred tourist destinations in the global commu-
He said 434,000 visitors from 167 countries
generated approximately $3 billion in revenue in
Sharma said, "When you say shark and bake, it
actually means the different foods of the country
like doubles, roti and pelau.
"When you go Maracas, there are at least 40
different food varieties selling---from pomme-
cythere, anchar, boil corn and corn soup.
"It s like when you say you re going for doubles
in Debe, you also have baiganee, saheena, kachouri
and mithai, so shark and bake is the tag line and
a cultural expression of attraction."
When asked if a middle ground be found between
the Government, tourism stakeholders promoting
T&T as the home of shark and bake and conser-
vationists, he said the market had to make that
Sharma said the Government understood the
importance of conservation and will act in a respon-
sible manner for the mutual benefit of all parties
'Sharks being overfished'
Deep-sea biologist Dr Diva Amon said while the
T&T Fisheries Act stipulated a minimum catch
size for some species of fish, including kingfish,
grouper and salmon, there was currently no min-
imum catch size or maximum landing amount for
The postdoctoral research fellow at the University
of Hawaii, USA, said even if this legislation did
exist for sharks, it would be difficult to
enforce given T&T s limited resources.
Amon said the minimum catch size rule
for many other species of fish was barely
enforced in T&T and it wouldn t be any
different for sharks.
She said the term "shark" refers to many
different species, which mature at different
ages and sizes, whereas for example, king-
fish refers to only one species.
Amon said it might be difficult for fish-
ermen to not only distinguish between
shark species but to also know which min-
imum catch size corresponded to which
species. She said unfortunately there were
few sustainable fisheries worldwide but
shark fisheries were highly unsustainable.
She said sharks were like humans in
that they take a long time to become sex-
ually mature and have few offspring.
Amon said these factors made it impos-
sible for most shark species to cope with
the huge pressures of commercial fishing
and currently humans were single handedly
Shark a boon to T&T tourism
...bane to conservationists
Continues on Page A11
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