Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don't miss the fishes for the shark's fin

Mar 4, 2011

MANY marine conservation groups profess to champion the concept of sustainable seafood but actually focus primarily on the issue of shark's fin ('Shark's fin: Marine group rebuts trader's claim' by Project: FIN; March 1).
The shark is only one among millions of fish species in the seas and oceans. Granted, the number of sharks has declined but the same goes for all other commercial species.
Researchers have logged the decline in sharks, but how does that relate to the decline in the total fish population?
If the fish population declines by 90 per cent, does it not follow that the shark population will drop as well?
A report last year ('Overfishing emptying the seas in South-east Asia'; Nov11) noted that there was 10 times less fish in the Gulf of Thailand in 1995 than in 1965 while Malaysia experienced an 80 per cent to 90 per cent plunge.
The cod fishery in the North Sea collapsed over a decade ago. The giant bluefin schools found off the east coast of the United States are history.
Apparently, only 10 per cent of the big fish are left.
While it is undeniable that the shark's fin trade is partly responsible for the decline in the shark population, the problem cannot be seen in isolation and must be part of a holistic approach that looks at overall fish populations.
Even if the shark's fin trade is stopped, will that save the sharks? If the seas continue to be pillaged of fish, they too will disappear. Yet, certain groups that promote sustainability of the sea focus mainly on shark's fin.
Could these groups be swayed emotionally by gruesome videos showing live finning? What proportion of shark's fin is derived from live finning?
Perhaps measures could be taken to have shark's fin labelled to differentiate those finned after death, in the manner of 'dolphin safe' tuna meat.
The focus on shark sustainability alone is akin to guarding a particular tree in the forest against loggers, while the rest of the forest around it is burning. One may save that tree from the loggers, but unless one douses the fire, that tree too will eventually perish.
If one is serious about sustainability, one must look at the bigger picture.
The decline in overall marine resources will soon lead to the end of sharks, even if they are not caught for their fins.

Steven Lauw

[What seductive logic! The fish stocks are already low! If we leave the sharks alone, they will eat the fish and we will have even less fish to feed humans! Even if we don't eat them with the depleted fish stocks, the sharks will die of starvation anyway. Better for us to eat thier fins before they die (of starvation) and their fins rot away.

Yeah. protecting sharks is like protecting one tree in the fiorest from loggers while the rest of the forest burns. Instead the protectors should focus on trying to put out the fire. Meanwhile the loggers can cut down the tree undisturbed by the tree-huggers. Or the shark-huggers.

Here's another analogy. The shark conservationists are like a store security trying to prevent shop-lifting, but meanwhile the store is burning! I'm just a shopper who sees that if I just leave the store because of the fire, all the goods in the store will burn. So when I see an iPad I think, If I just go, the iPad will burn and be destroyed. What a waste! I shall save the iPad and take it with me. This is also saving the environment. The amount of energy to manufacture an iPad would be wasted if it were destroyed in the fire.

The self-justifying looter.]

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