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The King of the Sea: Making Fiji a Shark Sanctuary (English)
 

The King of the Sea: Making Fiji a Shark Sanctuary (English)

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The King of the Sea: Making Fiji a Shark Sanctuary

The King of the Sea: Making Fiji a Shark Sanctuary
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  • We the people of Fiji have lived in harmony with our environment for centuries. We have had a natural respect for our surroundings and in many parts of Fiji have ancestral gods that link us spiritually to the shark. Today we find ourselves existing in a world that views natural resources very differently to our forefathers. Anything that can be extracted, used and sold usually is, and only after there is nothing left, do we see with hindsight and the knowledge of the consequences we are left with, that perhaps that was a bad idea.With this in mind, we would like a few moments of your time to share some information about sharks. While some of you may not like sharks, some may even fear them – it is important to understand the role that they play in our oceans, on our reefs and to our economy.
  • Imagine a reef that has had no human disturbance whatsoever. There would be a perfect balance of all the varieties of reef animals. Sharks would be in relatively small numbers, but performing a crucial role at the very top of the food chain. The diagram here illustrates proportionally the types of fish that would be found on a pristine reef.When you take sharks out of the environment, it can have a knock on effect throughout the ecosystem. The absence of shark in the marine environment will allow lower predators such as groupers to increase in numbers leading to a reduction in the number of algal (seaweed) feeders such as parrotfish (because they are eaten by groupers) thus making the reef more vulnerable to disturbances that kills corals such as disease and pollution and shifts to algal dominated reefs. This is bad because when the algae is not controlled by the herbivorous fish, it covers the corals that make up the reef.
  • Sharks are different to many species of fish in our waters. They don’t come together and release millions of eggs like groupers. Sharks are more like dolphins, or whales in this way. They wait until they reach maturity from age 7 to sometimes 12 then they mate, get pregnant and give birth to live young or a few eggs. Some species here in Fiji have very specific routines for giving birth. Bull sharks and hammerheads both use the fresh water rivers to give birth to their young. Some use the mangroves for protection.Some evidence also suggests that reef associated sharks may return to the place they were born to give birth to their young, similar to turtles returning to the beach they hatched on to lay their eggs.
  • So, sharks are very important to us here in Fiji. They are culturally significant, worshiped as an ancestral god by some, they help maintain and healthy balance on our reefs and in our oceans, and they also bring significant financial benefits to our tourism industry. While not all of us necessarily like sharks, some may even fear them, we need to appreciate their role in our ocean environment and recognize the need to protect them from unsustainable fishing pressure before its too late.
  • Now that fishing technologies and ranges span every corner of the worlds oceans – there is nowhere to hide. Sharks were initially an unfortunate by-catch.As a result, reported declinesXXXXIn all species?? XXX have been as much as 70-80 percent globally.However, in more recent years, and more worryingly, the outlook for sharks does not look good….. This is because….next slide
  • Sharks are now not only an unfortunate by-catch, they are a targeted species. Targeted not for their meat, but specifically for their fins. To maximize space and profit, fishermen cut off the fins and throw the bodies overboard. As the demand for shark fin increases more and more sharks are being finned and left to suffocate like this on the seabed.
  • The two pectoral (arm) fins, tail and dorsal fins are taken which on average will weigh 5kg total. 9000 fins in this ONE warehouse, this ONE week would represent 2250 sharks. 11250kgs of fin with a value of approximately $1,125,000.00 FJD – $2,250,000.00 FJD.
  • Well, the answer is yes. And in large quantities. The following images were taken by Dr Demian Chapman who accompanied the Department of Fisheries enforcement officers on a trip to assess the situation here in Fiji.
  • Fins are purchased by traders from all over Fiji. They are bagged and some are shipped in containers, while others are sent to Nadi each week and loaded in 50KG pallets on the direct flight to Hong Kong from the 6 KNOWN warehouses in Suva. Traders today are only required to apply for an export permit. There is currently no quota for volume of shark fin that can be legally exported.
  • Fins are dried in racks like this next to a fire or hung out to dry in the sunshine.
  • Fins are purchased by traders from all over Fiji. They are bagged and some are shipped in containers, while others are sent to Nadi each week and loaded in 50KG pallets on the direct flight to Hong Kong from the 6 KNOWN warehouses in Suva. Traders today are only required to apply for an export permit. There is currently no quota for volume of shark fin that can be legally exported.

The King of the Sea: Making Fiji a Shark Sanctuary (English) The King of the Sea: Making Fiji a Shark Sanctuary (English) Presentation Transcript