Shark fin fury

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

AL­LE­GA­TIONS have been raised about live shark­finning oc­cur­ring in Port Dou­glas and Cairns, with lo­cal film­maker and con­ser­va­tion­ist Ben Cropp tak­ing a stand against the il­le­gal trade.

There is a de­mand for shark fins, for use in tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicines and shark fin soup and although in some coun­tries fish­er­men have to bring back the whole shark be­fore they can defin them, Mr Cropp claims some lo­cal fish­er­men are tak­ing to fin­ning the sharks and throw­ing the sharks back in alive, un­able to move, to suf­fo­cate or be eaten by other preda­tors.

‘‘It is def­i­nitely hap­pen­ing in Cairns and we sus­pect also in Port Dou­glas, they usual go out fish­ing and at night to catch the sharks, de-fin them and let them go alive and hide the fins,’’ Mr Cropp said.

‘‘There’s a mar­ket for them in Cairns, an out­let in Cairns where they can be sold and a big shark like a tiger can bring $1000 just in its fins.

‘‘No one has been caught but we all know it goes on, but noth­ing has ever hap­pened.’’

Mr Cropp there is still a mar­ket for it and one so­lu­tion would be to ban shark fin soup and also ban the ex­port of shark fins.

‘‘While au­thor­i­ties say shark-fin­ning is il­le­gal, Aus­tralia al­lows the ex­port of shark fins,’’ he said.

‘‘In the 2011/2012 fi­nan­cial year, Aus­tralia ex­port 10,789 tonnes of shark fins and that rep­re­sents 13,300 tonnes of sharks but Aus­tralian fish­eries and the Government re­ports that a to­tal an­nual catch is 8000 tonnes per year - 5000 tonnes is miss­ing, it’s a black hole.’’

Mr Cropp said the Fed­eral Government should set an ex­am­ple and ban the ex­port of shark fins and shark fin soup and get rid of the mar­ket de­mand.

To report il­le­gal fish­ing in­clud­ing shark fin­ning, phone the Fish­watch Hot­line on 1800 017 116.

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