This article is the first of a series of articles that looks briefly at one aspect of the host of threats facing our world and the attempts of conservationists to hold back disaster. In this case its shark-finning, a huge industry providing for the avaricious vanity of human beings. Ecotourism is often heralded as a way to make more valuable the preservation of our natural resources, to validate the effort and costs of preservation and to discourage exploitation, but can it help the sharks?
Part 1 – Bowls of Blood
Ok so I am borrowing the title of the first video for the sub-title of part 1. Bowls of Blood is also the title of a short movie from Oceanic Love that shows the path from the ocean to the bowl. Finally we see exactly what goes into the creation of this infamous bowl of soup. We are taken behind closed doors into a Chinese restaurant’s kitchen in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Here we see just how pointless this bowl of soup is as we also remember the carnage that goes into making it.
WARNING – Scene’s of a graphic nature, viewer discretion is advised.
I cant say I have ever eaten/drunk Shark Fin Soup, my immediate perception is that cost wise its out of my league: $700 per kilogram on the Hong Kong market said Laura Marquez of ABC News in 2006. Until recently I was vaguely aware that there was a pressure on shark populations due to over-fishing but was not focussed enough to really see or hear.
I wonder if it is because in general we tend to think of sharks as the enemy. They eat us when they get the chance or at least have a good nibble. Why the hell would we care if there is some increased pressure on sharks particularly when there are so many other worthy causes within a general conservation philosophy.
Sharks or Pandas? Yes I think I know which way most people would turn. Most people that are not die hard conservationists, they have many other pressures in life and get weary of to many conservation messages and doctrine; an enemy of man therefore is not going to get much of our precious time. I am not saying this is justifiable, just that this is the way things are.
Conservationists, scientists and the UN are all trying to raise alarm bells to both the general issue and specific cases. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) predicts that there wont only be no more Shark Fin Soup but that there wont be any fish stocks of any kind by 2048. So why this article’s focus on sharks? Its not that sharks are more important say than tuna but that they are arguably under greater pressure. They are also the apex species in the food chain, it doesn’t follow that if you remove the primary predator the lower levels will recover, in fact possibly the opposite is true. Sharks cull the weak and diseased more easily than they do healthy specimens. A population that is rife with disease is seriously compromised and likely to collapse. They also control population levels of other predators which without sharks might number far more and completely devastate the primary human food sources.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of endangered species shows that as a category sharks appear more often than any other: the effect of pollution, destructive and over fishing have combined to peak in shark species. If the sharks disappear an imbalance will occur between other species and a bloom in one specie will herald the demise of another; one specie will be the looser, bio-diversity will diminish. The pyramid that is the food chain has to be stable all the way to the top which by definition starts with the shark.
Anyway for those of you that are still with me lets ask some questions.
- How great is pressure on the shark world?
- Why is it important that we reduce the pressure?
- How difficult will it be?
- How can Tourism help the plight of the shark population?
- What glimmers of hope or shades of gloom lie ahead?
On such glimmer: The Call of the Shark | Pelagic Life
The idea is to buy and release live-hooked sharks from fishermen in the Baja Peninsula. Besides freeing potentially dead sharks, the main purpose of this project is to show the fishermen the economic benefits of a live shark. Ecotourism provides higher and less risky income for the fishermen. Not only with direct pay from customers but from indirect income spent by explorers in the local towns. We believe this project will bring the necessary attention and customer flow to the selected towns in the Baja Peninsula while preparing the fishermen to receive shark divers. The project is the initiative of Pelagic Life
In the series – Shark Fin Soup Anyone?
Part 4 – Coming soon.