By Rabab Khan
A study published in 2013 has estimated that an average of approximately 100 million sharks are killed every year.
More than 270,000 sharks are killed every day worldwide. This means that every time you blink, three sharks are slayed.
On May 3, Dubai will participate in a global effort with a community event to reduce and eventually stop this barbaric culling.
Globally, shark finning has become a common practice, according to Shark Project, an international shark protection initiative based in Germany.
Many groups across the globe are striving to put an end to finning and conserve sharks. One such group is Divers Down Dubai. They have pledged their support to Project Aware, a non-profit organisation from California dedicated to protecting the ocean, in its battle to raise awareness about this horrifying crime.
Stuart Martin, general manager at Divers Down Dubai, told Gulf News: “We are concerned about sharks and the vital role they play in the ocean’s ecosystem and therefore we will be joining thousands of scuba divers and non-divers around the world to help end finning and conserve sharks on May 3, at Palm Jumeirah.”
Project Aware launched the global ‘Finathon’ in 2013.
Martin said: “It was a global campaign calling on dive leaders, shark protectors and other supporters to organise events in their community to raise awareness and much needed funds for this cause. Events took place globally throughout the year.”
This year, Divers Down Dubai will also be participating in the cause as active members.
The shark’s fin is removed and most often the fish is still alive when it is tossed back into the water. Unable to swim, the shark slowly sinks, where it is eaten alive by other fish.
According to Shark Project, a pound of dried shark fin can retail for $300 (Dh1,102) or more and is used in many parts of the world to make shark fin soup, a delicacy.
Martin said: “On May 3, we will be holding fun activities for both adults and children, which will include face painting, sand art competitions, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming challenges, a climbing wall and much more. We will also be hosting a fun race for anybody who would like to participate. At the end, there will be an award ceremony and a raffle with a range of prizes to be won, such as dive courses, standup paddle boarding lessons and a meal.”
The event is open to all and there is no entrance fee.
The money that is raised from these events will be used as donations towards Project Aware, which aims to “fight against the practice of finning, insist on full protection for critically endangered sharks and negotiate stronger policies to ensure a brighter future for all sharks”.
At the venue, the group also plans to put up kiosks that will provide information on shark conservation and allow people to donate.
“Shark fishing is largely unregulated around the world. This Finathon is a fun, healthy way to raise awareness about this important cause. Ultimately, we want people to learn and understand about sharks and how they directly affect the ecosystem. We place great emphasis on protecting the aquatic world. Sharks are just one of the many species that need our help and security for the future generations,” Martin said.
In an official press release, Ania Budziak, Project Aware’s associate director of science and policy, said: “Project Aware has recently helped close loopholes in the European Union (EU) finning ban and secure international trade protections for eight of the world’s most vulnerable sharks and rays. But to ensure the survival of sharks, stricter and enforceable controls are needed for more species at national, regional and global levels.
“It’s the healthy shark and ray populations that support tourism, which in some coastal communities, territories and states around the world underpins entire economies. Action is key, not only to keep the shark populations healthy, but also for longterm economic benefits that are not yet fully realised.”
As time passes, shark species are vanishing and the time to act is now and if you’re passionate about the cause you can join the race to protect sharks at a global level.
Shark finning refers to the removal and retention of shark fins. The shark is most often still alive when it is tossed back into the water. Unable to swim, the shark slowly sinks to the bottom where it is eaten alive by other fish.
Any shark is taken, regardless of age, size or species. Shark meat is considered low in value and so the entire body is not worth the cost of transporting to the market.
A study published in 2013 has estimated that the total number of sharks killed by fisheries each year is between 63 and 273 million, with an average of approximately 100 million. This equates to around 270,000 sharks killed every day!
Shark finning has increased over the past decade due to the increasing demand for shark fins, which are either used in shark fin soup or for other traditional cures.
One pound of dried shark fin can retail for $300 or more.
Sources: Shark Project, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
How to participate
The local Finathon is on Saturday, May 3 at Riva Beach Club, Palm Jumeirah.
Time: 7am to 2pm.
Visit www.diversdownuae.com and click on Finathon 2014 for details.
For donations, visit www.justgiving.com/teams/diversdowndubai.
About Project Aware
Project Aware focuses on advocating for national, regional and global management and conservation actions that heed all available scientific advice for limiting shark catches; fully protect shark species listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); set precautionary shark fishing limits and ensure all sharks are landed with their fins naturally attached.
In 2013, the European Commission finally closed the loopholes in the EU shark finning bans after six years of debate. Five species of highly traded sharks, both manta rays and one species of sawfish were listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) at the conclusion of CoP16 held this March in Bangkok, Thailand.
In 2013, the first Global Finathon organised by Project Aware raised $69,757 (Dh256,218). Thirty nine teams and 158 individual fundraisers participated, and they swam 798km globally. Visit www.projectaware.org for more details.