The following is an article that highlights a major conservation issue that will ultimately affect us all. Yet many of our readers will be surprised! The story is courtesy of Nine MSN:
A top Sydney chef says shark fin soup should be banned from Australian restaurants because the demand for the delicacy is driving sharks to extinction.
Dank Street Depot’s Jared Ingersoll said serving shark fin dishes in Australia is promoting an unsustainable industry.
“Stocks of shark and shark fin are depleting and unless we take a stand and say no to this product it’s going to run out,” he said.
Mr Ingersoll said as well as the restaurant ban, the importation of the shark fins from other countries should be stopped.
“Buying it in from other countries, we’re actually not solving the problems because we’re shifting the problem to someone else’s front door,” he said.
Shark finning — the brutal but lucrative practice of cutting fins off live sharks and throwing them back into the ocean to slowly drown — is banned in Australia.
But Australia still imports 10,000kg of dried shark fins every year from countries that have not banned finning, including China and The Philippines, which equates to an estimated 26,000 sharks.
Ninemsn has found that dried sharks fins are widely available in Sydney’s Chinatown with price tags up to $1400 per kilogram and $158 a bowl of shark fin soup.
The dish is a symbol of wealth in Asian culture, but recently it has also appeared on western-style menus, including at Quay restaurant in Sydney.
Glenn Sant, from Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network TRAFFIC, said the global trade in shark fins was a major concern.
“Its not identified at all when it appears in a ship or through markets whether it’s from a sustainable source or a legal source,” he said.
Mr Sant said Australia had come a long way to protecting sharks but still played a significant role in the shark fishing industry — catching up to 12,000 tonnes per year.
He said the government needed to do more to demonstrate that they are managing in a sustainable way.
Chef Neil Perry, who heads Rockpool restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne, will only only serve seafood that is harvested sustainably.
“We know where it comes from, we know the fishermen and we know the fishing methodology,” Mr Perry said.
But he said the real issue was how the industry is managed.
“We should probably be able to have shark fin at some stage if the inhumanity of finning is stopped, the shark is being harvested from a sustainable biomass and all of the shark is being used.”
“It’s not a matter of getting banners and marching outside Chinese restaurants in Chinatown — it’s really a matter of having a dialogue at [a global] government level.”
Documentary film SharkWater, released in Australian cinemas this month, has ignited controversy over shark finning with it’s portrayal of cracking the black market fin trade in Costa Rica.
Director Rob Stewart, also a marine biologist, said shark populations have dropped 90 percent in the last 30 years because of the growing demand for shark fin soup in Asia.
“We’re not living in a sustainable relationship with the world that allows us to survive on land and we need to turn that around really quickly,” he told ninemsn.
Last month, the Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, placed an export ban on a fishery in northern Western Australia because of an alarming decline in one shark species.
“The rate of decline in the sandbar shark was considered so severe that shark fishing had to be stopped in the area,” a WA Fisheries Department spokesman said.
Story by Josephine Asher, ninemsn
Comment by Tony Inman at Club Red- As a keen scuba diver, I am absolutely an advocate of the importance of preserving our marine eco-systems around the World. I highly recommend the film ‘Sharkwater’, which explains the bad rep that sharks have received from Hollwood movies such as ‘Jaws’.
Sharks kill only about 5 people a year in the whole world, whereas we kill around 50 million of them. They kill usually only because they mistake us for something else that they would usually eat, such as a seal or a turtle, whereas in many cases humans kill sharks for their fins, often throwing them back in the water still alive, and leaving them to die a cruel and painful death.
I have personally dived up close to many sharks, of which there are hundreds of species, a lot of which are quite harmless to humans.
The incidents of shark attacks really come down to being very unlucky – “wrong place, wrong time”. Stats show that more people are killed by coconuts falling on their heads or being struck by lightning. More people die from defective electric toasters than from shark attacks, yet you don’t often find people fearing for their life as they avoid the kitchen bench!
If you are healthy and can pluck up the courage, I highly recommend learning to scuba dive. Failing that. have a go at snorkelling. If that’s still not your cup of tea, then take a tour in a glass bottom boat or visit AQWA, our WA aquarium, where you can watch sharks through the safety of a window.
All of these activities can be organised for you by our staff at Club Red.
Check out the movie, ‘Sharkwater‘.
Education is the key to understanding that sharks have an important place in our world and that they actually fulfill a vital role in maintaining the good health of the oceans and ultimately, of our Planet Earth.