Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Trinidad and Tobago: Go Easy on the Sharks

pew environment group shark
Photo: Joe Daniels
Today, our national menu of shark and bake is now imported Guyanese catfish and bake. Shark populations have been decimated. Other countries are responding and so, too, can we. Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) calls on our Government to take a position on this national crisis.

Last week, Guam's governor signed "Bill 44" to ban shark finning after the proposal was unanimously passed by legislators. Guam is the third place which has recently put a law into place that bans the sale, possession and distribution of shark fins.

This practice has become more prevalent over the years because of the rise in popularity of shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy. Worldwide, more than 70 million sharks are killed by finning each year and, often, the shark's body is disposed of in the sea alive after the brutal process of cutting off the fin.

Here, in Trinidad and Tobago, over 50 Asian industrial long-line vessels (that berth in Sea Lots) hang thousands of fins to dry in the sun each day. These large sharks are caught offshore before they are able to come inshore to reproduce.

Guam must be the model for the future of shark preservation in Trinidad and Tobago. Sharks are vital for the ocean's ecosystem. As soon as you start to take out an important part of the food chain, eventually, it's going to collapse without that vital link.

It is essential we preserve these amazing creatures and not let them be destroyed in this horrible and wasteful practice. Our People's Partnership Govern- ment has a mandate to return this country to sustainable and regulated harvesting. This activity cannot be sustained.

We are proud of Guam's decision and lend our full support to Food Production Minister Vasant Bharath, so he will lead us in their progressive footsteps.

Terrence Beddoe, president
Gary Aboud, secretary
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea

Printed in the Trinidad Express on March 16, 2011

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