Poor fisheries management endangers sharks in the Coral Triangle
The report, An Overview of Shark Utilization in the Coral Triangle Region, examines the catch, trade, and management of sharks in waters of the six Coral Triangle countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste, plus the neighbouring countries of Vietnam and Fiji.
Indonesia and Malaysia are among the top 20 shark catching nations in the world—Indonesia being the single largest catcher.
“This report identifies crucial gaps in these countries’ implementation of management measures and data collection. In some cases this reflects inconsistency with basic requirements of the regional bodies and international conventions of which they are members,” says Glenn Sant, TRAFFIC Global Marine Programme Leader.
Key issues highlighted include the general absence of specific management measures for sharks, a lack of species identification in shark catch and trade reports, and the general lack of available data on both shark catch and trade across the region.
“The development of sustainable shark fisheries in this region has a long way to go. None of the countries can currently claim to be effectively and responsibly managing their shark resources,” says Sant.
The report encourages local and regional management bodies to examine the factors needed for responsible shark utilization, which include responsible management, trade, and consumption. Each of these elements requires adequate governance and monitoring to provide confidence that traded shark products are from sustainable sources.
“The introduction of a comprehensive package of shark management measures must be a priority for these countries. Shark sanctuaries are an important component of this package as they provide an immediate and precautionary supplement to other management measures and, in particular, can provide much needed refuge and protected nursery areas for sharks,” says Andy Cornish, WWF-Hong Kong Conservation Director.
Hong Kong and its role in the responsible utilisation of sharks
Some fisheries target sharks for their meat but the main driver of unsustainable fishing for sharks is currently the demand in Asia for fins, which are used in shark fin soup. China announced in July this year that it planned to ban shark fin soup from official receptions, which is an important step forward. WWF-Hong Kong has been calling on the Hong Kong government to place a ban on serving shark fin at official receptions.
“This report shows how slow the development of sustainable fisheries has been in important areas where sharks are caught, and why WWF advocates that people should stop consuming shark fin and other parts, unless consumers can verify that a shark product is really coming from a sustainable source, notably with Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification,” says Cornish. MSC is the only credible eco-label currently available for wild capture fisheries, and there are only two MSC certified shark fisheries in the world.
Since WWF-Hong Kong launched its Shark Fin Initiative in 2007, 140 HK companies have pledged not to sell, promote or consume shark fin soup in their companies activities; 107 restaurants are now serving “Alternative Shark-free Menu”, providing options for individuals and companies that wish to avoid shark fin. This programme is an ideal way to promote the sustainable seafood concept in Hong Kong.
WWF-Hong Kong is hosting the Third Sustainable Seafood Business Seminar on 10 September 2012 to highlight success stories of business’ serving sustainable seafood and how this benefits marine conservation. Full programme and registration details are available at wwf.org.hk/seafood/seminar2012
Despite long-standing global concerns on declining shark populations due to growing evidence that many shark species are threatened, shark populations continue to drop due to a general lack of basic management. The plight of sharks is further exacerbated by illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Of the 1,044 shark-related species, 181 are listed as threatened by IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Red List, while 488 are classified as data deficient.
Download the full report at: www.panda.org/coraltriangle/sharks