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Shark conservation

Samisoni Nabilivalu
Friday, July 15, 2011

CONCERNS have been raised about the effectiveness of fisheries legislation and the possibility of loopholes in an agreement signed by Fiji with the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

Jona Baro, a dive master with dive company Aqua Trek Beqa, says others in the same line of work fully support government moves to strengthen laws protecting sharks.

"We have always stood for a full ban and those familiar with marine issues will tell you that if the current rate of shark fin and meat trade continues, it could have a drastic effect on our marine ecosystems and eventually the lives of people," Mr Baro said.

He was also critical of the commission's requirement of 5 per cent of a shark's body to be attached to it in order for it to be sold.

Mr Baro said the agreement was open to interpretation and could easily be used to bypass a ban on the trade of shark fins.

Russel Dunham, the CEO of Fiji Fish Marketing Group Limited, said the company supported the continuing ban on issuing shark fishing licences because there were certain ships in the region that specifically fished for sharks.

"However, I categorically state that I do not nor does the fishing industry support the total export ban of shark products from Fiji," he said. "All fishing vessels whether commercial long liners or recreational fishermen will continue to catch sharks during the normal process of fishing. As such the banning of exports of shark products will have no affect on shark mortality."

Mr Dunham believes the issue needs to be discussed in full with the fishing industry which so far had not assessed the full implications of such a policy on the industry and Fiji's economy and export earnings.





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