Monday, October 15, 2012

Fiji Considers National Plan of Action for Sharks

Widespread concern over the lack of management of shark fisheries and declining shark populations led to the adoption and endorsement of the UN FAO International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA–Sharks) in 1999. This is aimed at ensuring the conservation and management of sharks and their long-term sustainable use, with particular emphasis on improving species-specific catch and landings data collection, and the monitoring and management of shark fisheries. The IPOA–Sharks recommends, inter alia, that all States contributing to fishing mortality on an elasmobranch species or stock should participate in its management, and should develop a National Shark Plan by 2001.


Fiji is in the midst of public consultations to draft a national plan of action for sharks.  From the Fiji Times:
FIJI will soon have a National Action Plan for sharks in Fiji.
Consultations are in progress at the Southern Cross Hotel in Suva to determine how these measures will be implemented.
Ian Freeman, fisheries management adviser of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agencies, said the consultations would enable stakeholders to build a plan for shark conservation and management in Fiji waters.
He said they wanted to ensure shark catches from directed and non-directed fisheries were sustainable and minimise the unutilised incidental catching of sharks.
He said participants from relevant authorities and NGOs would assess the threat to shark populations and implement harvesting strategies consistent with the principles of biological sustainability and rational long-term economic use.
"It is important that stakeholders learn how they could draft a plan and how they put those plans to practice," Mr Freeman said.
He said their major concern now was the Oceanic white-tip shark which topped the over fishing list in 2011.
From a graph presented yesterday, 939 sharks were caught by Fiji domestic long liners.
He said of these, 92 were Oceanic white-tip sharks.
Mr Freeman said the scenario was similar to other parts of the country where blue sharks, silky sharks and short fin mako sharks were over caught. The consultations will continue today.
It will be interesting to see how this process develops. While the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agencies reports that only 939 sharks were caught last year, this number does not include sharks released without their fins. This has been found to lead to increased mortality. The amount of illegal, unreported, and underreported sharks killed in Fiji is quite high, as evidenced by this trader who offers the undercover cameraman one ton of shark fin per month.

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