Monday, September 16, 2013

Fiji Times: Slaughter for Fijian Plates

The Fiji Times published an indepth story today describing how local Fijians purchase shark carcasses for resale in Suva's fish markets.
HUNG shamelessly from a tree by the roadside for all to see, the two young men separated skin from flesh and chopped up the prized catch into big chunks.

The fins, tails, and heads of the five mako sharks had been removed at the first point of contact — on the high seas on board tuna fishing boats inside Fiji's Exclusive Economic Zone.

They didn't care about what some of those passing said about their being part of the shark product industry that's taking a heavy toll on our shark population and the marine ecosystem.

Soon their pockets would be filled.

The two men — who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation by those who advocate for shark protection — have been dealing in shark meat for some time.

To them, shark meat is easy money. They don't need a boat to go out and fish. They just wait at the wharf.

When the Chinese fishing boats sail into the harbour, the buyers of finned sharks lined up for what are mostly mako. At $10 each at whatever size, they transport them out of the city to "process", which involve skinning the thick hide of the sharks and chopping them into blocks that fill white plastic bags.

"It's good money for us. We buy at $10 each and can make up to $70 from a mako shark if it's a good day. Life's hard in Suva. We left the island to come here for a better life and this has provided us with a good opportunity."
These prices are in Fijian dollars.  At today's exchange rate, $10 Fijian is about US$5.38.  Opponents of shark conservation will point out that locals are able to make some money and communities are gaining a source of cheap protein.  However, Fijian's are still getting the short end of this deal when you consider the retail value of the fins.

Shark tourism in Fiji is worth US$42.2 million, or about F$75 million.  Sharks are worth much more alive.

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