SHARK FINNING IN AUSTRALIA
20 years ago fishermen were discarding the fins of sharks and keeping the body as this is what would make them a small profit. Now a larger and accessible market surrounding shark fins has created dramatic fishing pressure on sharks. Although Australia has laws against shark finning, there are circumstances where it is not illegal in our waters, and it occurs illegally.
In 1990, it was estimated that Japanese long-liners in Tasmanian waters were catching 34,000 blue sharks per year, finning and discarding them. In Australia, finning is banned in all Commonwealth (federal) tuna fisheries, (which cover the area from 3–200 nautical miles from the shore) and in all fisheries in New South Wales (NSW), Victoria and Western Australia. The ban does not apply within the state/territorial waters (out to 3 n.m.) of South Australia, Queensland or the Northern Territory, nor does it apply to non- tuna Commonwealth fisheries.
The major source of fins from Australian waters is from the tuna fisheries, which produced an estimated 20mt of dry shark fins in 1999, predominantly from blue sharks. More than 50,000 individuals were caught in that year. Domestic tuna fishermen are reportedly earning up to US$37/kg for wet fins. One member of a Tuna Association is reported to be landing US$260,000 worth of shark fins each year.
In 1998-99, approximately 6,078mt of landed shark catch was reported from target shark fisheries. It is estimated that a further 4,082mt of sharks were caught, with only the fins utilized. Extrapolating, using average weights of 15-40kg per shark, this would mean that anywhere from 112,500-300,000 sharks are likely to have been finned in Australian waters in just two years. Trade figures for 1998-99 show significant shark fin exports of 83.5mt of dried shark fin, valued at US$2.86 million. In Australia's northern prawn fishery, bycatch was estimated in 1998 to be 2,370mt and included shovelnose and shark rays.
The retention of bycatch, particularly for the fin market, has increased over recent years and much of it has gone unrecorded. Revenue from fins now approaches that from meat. There has been a series of finning bans introduced in some states/territories and in some fisheries.
Issuing letters to all the shark fin serving restaurants in Sydney's China town, during the making of 'Shark Girl'.
The major source of fins from Australian waters is from the tuna fisheries,which produced an estimated 20mt of dry shark fins in 1999, predominantly from blue sharks. More than 50,000 individuals were caught in that year.
Taken on a trip I did when I was 18
SHARK FINNING; BAJA, MEXICO