Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New Zealand to Eventually Ban Shark Finning/ Interpol Warns of Horrific Finning Practice

Hello once again everyone. I hope all is well in your lives with the holidays quickly approaching and what not. Tonight's blog features both good and bad news. The good news coming from New Zealand and the bad from Costa Rica. Both news items are in regards to shark finning. So without further adeu, here we go.

Let's start with the good news. New Zealand, despite being one of the greener nations in the world has never had a full on ban on shark finning.

New Zealand is the little island on the lower right hand side of the map

 There are laws in place that ban fisherman from removing the fins of a shark and tossing it's body back into the ocean if the animal was still alive. However, it is perfectly legal for them to fin the shark after the animal had died. The new rules in regards to shark fins would be similar to rules that other nations have. The new rules would ban fisherman from removing fins from any shark at sea. Very similar to the United States, this means that sharks have to be landed totally in tact. That is certainly great news, but New Zealand claims that the $5 million dollar industry will take at least two years to phase out. That is a long time to change fishing regulations. The shark fin industry in New Zealand is ranked within the top twenty in exporters of shark fins. National airline Air New Zealand has stopped exporting shark fins from the country and more and more pressure is mounting for New Zealand to speed up the transition process. In reality, two to three years is nowhere near quick enough for this change in regulation to come into effect. It is great that New Zealand is changing their ways when it comes to shark finning, but to say that they are dragging their feet about it is an understatement. This country, a country that has fought alongside Australia on the issue of whaling against Japan, is one of the world's greenest nations and yet shark finning remains at large and largely legal at that. If you look around the world, over 100 countries have outright banned shark finning, sanctuaries have been established worldwide, and trade regulations have even been altered in some cases. The time for New Zealand to ban shark finning isn't two to three years from now, it is now. Still though, it is by no means a bad thing to see the country finally acting on shark finning and joining the growing movement to save sharks!

So that is the good news. Now for the frankly disturbing bad news coming out of Costa Rica...

Costa Rican authorities have tipped off Interpol of a horrific new style of shark finning that appears to be taking place in an effort to get around certain shark finning laws. In 2011, fishermen on board the vessel Wang Jia Men thought they had found a loophole in Costa Rica's shark finning laws. What the fishermen did was catch a shark and cut all of the animals flesh off down to the spine off, save for a strip of skin and muscle that attached the fins to the sharks body. The flesh was tossed into the water and the sharks were landed looking like this...

MAINshark
Sharkfin01
Sharkfin02

Kinda disturbing isn't it. The fins were eventually deemed not naturally attached to the shark however and the practice was quickly put to a stop. The Costa Rican Coast Guard reported the incident to Interpol (The International Criminal Police  Organization) back in August and just a few days ago a purple notice to alert other countries of this practice. Though the practice was deemed illegal in Costa Rica, there is no guarantee that it will be deemed as such elsewhere where shark finning laws may not be as restrictive, ironically such as New Zealand's current laws. Should this practice start showing up in other countries, it is beyond imperative that those countries immediately fix the laws to state that what is pictured above is NOT acceptable for landing sharks with their fins attached. However they want to describe it is fine with me, but this simply cannot be allowed to happen. Countries that allow this to go on and yet have finning laws in place are doing nothing but harm for sharks because this will simply become the new norm of shark finning.

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