Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Caring more about sharks than people?
Papa Bois Conservation recently started a campaign to create a shark sanctuary and implement a ban on the trade of shark products in T&T. There are very good reasons for doing so.
Most sharks are slow to mature, have long gestation periods and few offspring. This makes them unsuitable for commercial fishery, a fact that hasn’t stopped the targeting of shark for their fins, meat, liver oil and cartilage. Up to 270 million sharks are extracted from the ocean each year, much faster than they can breed, resulting in up to 90 per cent of loss of some species. Many of these are killed for their fins, which are mostly exported to Asia and Hong Kong in particular.
For a small country T&T plays a big role in the global demise of sharks. We are the 6th ranked exporter of shark fin to Hong Kong, the world’s largest shark fin market. We are also a major consumer of shark meat. Of course everybody immediately thinks of bake and shark, but shark is also sold in supermarkets and restaurants. Much of this shark is imported, suggesting that we have depleted our local shark stocks, and are now eating up the shark populations of other countries.