Thursday, March 14, 2013

Shark Sanctuary Enforcement is Taking Place

While the world celebrates CITES historic vote to list oceanic whitetips, hammerheads, porbeagles, and manta on Appendix II, the men and women in uniform charged with enforcing marine protections continue their mostly unheralded work to enforce the laws that protect our oceans. This week shark busts took place in Hawaii, home of the landmark shark fin trade ban that ignited shark conservation in 2010, and the Marshall Islands, home to a shark sanctuary four times the size of California.


Enforcement of the shark protection measures put in place in recent years is so important because many of the detractors, and to be truthful, many of our would be supporters, claim that enforcement is impossible. If islands states with limited budgets and capacity can implement these measures it proves this argument incorrect.

The Marshall Islands have vigorously defended their shark sanctuary since its creation in 2011. Last year they issued fines totally US$235,000.

From the Marianas Variety:
A Majuro-based long line fishing boat has had its fishing license suspended after it was caught with shark fins on board last week by a police boarding party.

The vessel, whose name was not immediately available, is flagged in the Federated States of Micronesia and fishes locally through the Marshall Islands Fishing Venture, which is operated by Hong Kong-based Luen Thai Fishing Venture. In addition to Majuro, Luen Thai manages long line fishing operations in Pohnpei and Palau that supply tuna for sashimi markets in Asia and the United States.

Ten bags of shark fins and some sharkskin were confiscated during a sub-regional maritime surveillance operation in which the Marshall Islands Sea Patrol and Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority participated, said MIMRA Director Glen Joseph on Wednesday.

Fisheries officials estimate that the confiscated fins involved killing between 40 and 50 sharks. A fisheries law bans shark finning in Marshall Islands waters and the presence of shark fins on board a vessel, even if they were caught in another country’s ocean jurisdiction.
The vessel’s license has been suspended pending the negotiation of a fine. Everything is expected to be wrapped today. I hope that the Marshall Islands confiscate the fins and burn them for the world to see.

In Hawaii, a crew member on a longline fishing vessel tried to sell a bag of unprocessed fins to a Chinese restaurant. He faces a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $1000 and jail time. I hope this story sheds light on the sharks being killed for their meat in Hawaii, despite the shark fin ban.

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