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Sharks still targeted for meat, skin and teeth

Published: 
Monday, August 18, 2014

Stanley is a shark fisherman from a poor community in the northeast of Trinidad. “I bring the fins to market, but sometimes the traders don’t buy. When that happens I have to throw away the fins.” He continues: “They tell me that people are not buying buying fins any more. “It is the fins that make the shark valuable. I get $9 per lb of meat, but the fins can fetch $200 per lb. If I can’t sell the fins then there is no profit in catching shark.”

Stanley doesn’t know that his trade is affected by a battle that conservationists, led by a group called WildAid, are waging for the hearts and minds of consumers in distant China. He just feels the effect of the value of his trade slipping away. 

Hanging in front of his humble house are the tools of his trade. They look like clotheslines. Each one has hooks fixed to it—shark hooks. He uses them to catch tiger sharks, bull sharks and hammerhead sharks. The hooks are big, measuring a few inches, but then the sharks he catches are huge.

Sometimes they are 16 feet in length, but more commonly about ten feet. He usually fishes by himself, sometimes with one other person. When he hooks a big one, he cuts it up and guts it out at sea, otherwise he will never get it aboard his small pirogue. 

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