At a forum held by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, Dr. Giam Choo Hoo, a member of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Professor Steve Oakley, Shark Savers Malaysia chairman, and Hank Jenkins, president of conservation outfit Species Management Specialists, stated that a shark finning ban would not be effective because it will not dramatically reduce the number of sharks killed worldwide. The three panelists also insist there is no evidence that live finning – cutting sharks’ fins off before throwing the sharks back into the sea – is a prevalent practice. read more
Similar to the market pressures underlying (to a partial extent) the practice of shark finning, a recent article in Scientific American describes how demand for the gills of the manta and mobula rays is threatening these majestic elasmobranchs. The tragic thing is that the use of manta gills is not supported by traditional Chinese medicine, but appears to be a relatively new fad according to the article.
The Australian government plans a 1,000,000 sq. km marine sanctuary in the coral sea that would be off limits to hydrocarbon exploration and development and have significantly restricted food-fishing quotas, including a 51% no-take area and a gillnet and trawling ban. Commercial fishing operators and energy interests are opposing the proposal. The proposal is open to public comment for three months. I would not be surprised if there was a compromise on the final legislation. read more
On January 6, 2009, President George W. Bush established the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906. The monument incorporates approximately 86,888 square miles within its boundaries, which extend 50 nautical miles from the mean low water lines of Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands; Johnston, Wake, and Palmyra Atolls; and Kingman Reef. All these islands have coral reefs. According to the Marine Conservation Institute, commercial fishing was banned under the presidential order establishing the monument, but NOAA and the US Fish & Wildlife Service have failed to implement the commercial fishing ban. MCI has filed a petition with the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce requesting enforcement of the ban. read more
While I have tended to view some of the Caribbean nations as far behind the curve in terms of conservation, this article describes the Trinidad and Tobago Cabinet approval of an amendment of the Fisheries Act to ban killing, catching, possessing or sale of sea turtles and eggs. According to the article, T&T were signatories to CITES, but this act means that sea turtles can no longer be considered by-catch. Trinidad and Tobago have nesting populations of five of the seven species of marine turtles occurring worldwide and has one of the largest nesting populations of leatherback turtles in the world. read more