Fiji Time: 11:22 AM on Monday 24 November

Fiji Times Logo

/ Front page / News

Killing frenzy haunts hunter

Ilaitia Turagabeci
Monday, July 01, 2013

THERE is a celebration of machoism and cruelty when a shark is landed alive on the deck of a tuna fishing boat.

Kaiafa Ledua, a former shark fisherman who has become an advocate for shark protection, said killing the shark as it thrashed about on the deck brought out the worst in a person at sea.

"In hindsight now, all that frenzy around that shark is actually very cruel. We'd cheer and shout as we'd stab the animal in its side," said Mr Ledua, who became a shark advocate while on the Uto Ni Yalo's epic voyages.

Mr Ledua said as far as fishermen on tuna boats were concerned, sharks were a targeted fisheries, not a bycatch as tuna boat operators claim.

He said the Chinese boat operators he used to work for would offer A-grade tuna meant for export as shark bait.

"The more sharks you caught, the ace fisherman you'd become in their eyes, the more money we took home. What we earned from shark fins was triple what we took home as wages.

"If you dropped a shark, you'd be put off a boat.

"When you land a shark, you're a hero. Us Fijian fishermen would get sucked into this killing frenzy and get psyched up for the next kill. When I look back now with my better understanding of sharks, it is a painful memory. Such cruelty."

Mr Ledua now tells anyone who'd listen that the world depends on this ancient predator whose population in Fiji is fast being threatened by overfishing.

He said about 50 per cent of the world's oxygen was created by phytoplankton, tiny organisms that produces chlorophyll, in the ocean.

Those same phytoplankton, he added, are also absorbing a lot of the carbon dioxide that "we are emitting into the atmosphere".

"Sharks feed on fish that eat the plankton and keep the organisms' numbers high, allowing them to contribute to our oxygen supply."

Without sharks to act as population control, Mr Ledua said the plankton-eating species would deplete "this resource".

He said while sharks were important for this reason, they were worth more alive than dead.

"Our tourists come here for our healthy ocean. Why would they come if we kill all our sharks and destroy our marine ecosystem."





Fiji Times Front Page Thumbnail

Kaila Front Page ThumbnailFiji Times & Kaila Frontpage PDF Downloads

Use the free Acrobat Reader to view.

Today's Most Read Stories

  1. President Xi leaves impression on leaders
  2. Deal on NZ jobs
  3. Job opportunities
  4. Stand by big brothers
  5. Out of wedlock births up
  6. Growth forecast
  7. Healing sanctuary
  8. Dragons win 7s title
  9. Hygienic home
  10. Archbishop lauds graduates

Top Stories this Week

  1. Stabbed to death Tuesday (18 Nov)
  2. Prime Minister Modi arrives in Fiji Wednesday (19 Nov)
  3. Kill victim cried for help Tuesday (18 Nov)
  4. Bula Mr Modi Wednesday (19 Nov)
  5. Modi-fied Thursday (20 Nov)
  6. Modi announces visa on arrival for Fiji people Wednesday (19 Nov)
  7. WHAT FIJI WILL GET Thursday (20 Nov)
  8. PM says sorry Thursday (20 Nov)
  9. Big cheer for a PM of good tidings Thursday (20 Nov)
  10. MPs boycott Wednesday (19 Nov)