I refer to the article “Global names join local NGO’s fight to save sharks” (Nov 7).
Shark Savers Singapore regional director Jonn Lu’s claim that “we can’t do very well without them (sharks) —that our future generations depend on their existence” has no merit.
This misconception implies that all sharks are apex predators in the ocean food chain. This is empirically untrue because there are more than 420 species of sharks ranging in size from less than a foot (30.5cm) to more than 55 feet in length, such as the whale sharks.
Shark Savers’ mission is commendable, but if it wishes to save sharks, its methods and mission must be holistic. Why then should it campaign only against shark’s fin soup?
This is culturally insensitive as the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), with 180 member states, is the only global watchdog regulating trade on endangered species and it has not listed any shark species on its endangered list.
And the laws of Singapore, United States, the European Union, Russia, China, Japan, India, Indonesia and Malaysia, to name a few countries, do not list sharks as an endangered species.
The claim that eating shark’s fin soup will somehow cause more than 420 species of them to become extinct flies in the face of logic because the fins of only about 30 to 40 species of sharks are used in this traditional Asian cuisine.
And to imply that only Asians consume sharks is reprehensible. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 20 million pounds (9.1 million kg) of only one species of sharks, the spiny dogfish, which is marketed as “steakfish” or “grayfish”, were consumed by the US in 2011.
That is a 33 per cent spike from 2010, after US President Barack Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act into law in 2011.
In the EU, another 44 million pounds of the spiny dogfish were consumed in 2011, disguised as rock salmon fish and chip meals in the United Kingdom, as saumonette in France, as schillerlocken in Germany, and palombo in Italy. In Australia, more than 33 million pounds of shark meat, called flakes, are made into fish and chip meals every year.
Why are the wildlife activists not campaigning for the West to stop consuming shark meat? Why the double standard?
The biggest killers of sharks are the industrial-scale, longline fisheries in developed nations such as the US, Spain, Japan, France, Portugal, Britain, Canada and Australia, which use up to 140km of longlines and up to 10,000 hooks to target the more valuable swordfish and giant bluefin tuna, but millions of sharks are killed as a by-catch.
Even if the world stopped eating shark’s fin soup, millions of sharks will continue to be killed as a by-catch in longlines unless legislation or regulations are in hand to stop these wanton killings in the West.