Article by David Trescuri (Date: 25 June 2012) Contact the author Here
One of their own has challenged shark conservationists over the value of shark “fin-ban” legislation.
In a recent article, shark researcher, David Shiffman questioned the effectiveness of fin-ban legislation, “[Such] bans do not allow well managed fisheries to supply the marketplace with fins.” Supporting the supply of fins to the marketplace apparently places Mr Shiffman at odds with much of the conservationist movement.
According to Mr Shiffman, “[He] as well as many, many other scientists and natural resource managers do not support fin ban legislation”. The paradox of this position seems strange but once justified it appears logical.
So, how do these supposed conservationists justify themselves? Their stance appears to have more validity in economics rather than ecology.
The core idea is that the prohibition of trading fins, in a specific area, encourages commercial fishers to obtain fins illegally, as the product’s value will increase on the black-market. Whereas, a ‘well-managed’ fishery, which still allows for the trade in fins, should, in theory, result in a more stable value, whilst also discouraging illegal operations.
Mr Shiffman and his supporters call for better, more stringent, management of shark fisheries. According to them, the prohibition of fin trading will have little, if any, affect on the issues facing sharks around the world. Only a concerted, coordinated international response will assure that sharks have a future.
Without question, improved fisheries management strategies are an essential factor in sustaining future shark populations; however, given the rapid decline of many shark species globally it is clear that these strategies have, to date, failed . In many cases even science-based quotas combined with efforts at more enforcement have failed . In addition, it is baffling why fisheries scientists or shark biologists would support the fishing of any shark populations, even those that are considered ‘sustainable’, when studies have revealed that shark meat and fins contain toxins like mercury  and BMAA .
Conservationists must of course strive for better management of shark fisheries, locally and globally, to ensure responsible exploitation and to reduce or eliminate the reliance upon illicit traders to supply a valuable commodity. However, given the rapid and continued decline of shark populations globally a determined international effort must now focus on shark preservation.
Fin-ban legislation may well provide the solution by immediately stopping the trade in shark fins and thus reducing fishing pressure as a result of reduced demand.
For a more in depth look at fin-bans Click Here.
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