Nassau, Bahamas - If you are wondering why so much attention is being directed at shark conservation in recent times Matt Rand, Director of Global Shark Conservation of the PEW Environment Group says it is all becomes of an Asian obsession with shark fin soup.
"Unfortunately, because of their value in a bowl of soup, up to 73 million sharks are killed annually, just so their fins can end up in soup. It is a luxury item, it is not a food item. And what this is causing very rapidly is a global depletion of sharks. Right now 38% of shark species that are in the world's oceans are threatened, or are near threatened with extinction; and those are just the ones that we know. We also know that that statistic is actually short," said Rand.
This global decimation of the shark population is now having a negative impact on the ecosystems of many oceans, but Rand says but for a country that has tourism as its number one industry, potentially there can be a more devastating outcome.
"Here in The Bahamas, shark tourism activity actually brings in $78 million into the economy annually and reef sharks here are actually estimated to be about $250,000 each for shark tourism and shark related activities here in The Bahamas. So it is an important economic driver and it's a sustainable situation. If you leave the sharks in the water, keep them healthy as you currently have them, and keep the ecosystem healthy right now then you will have this resource for future generations to come, so that the kids will actually be able to see a healthy ocean environment as well," continues Rand.
Isolated cases of shark finning have been identified in Andros and there were a few restaurants in Nassau that are reportedly selling shark fin soup under a veil of secrecy. With the Baha Mar project coming on stream soon a very significant Chinese population is about to take up residence in this country. Rand says that Bahamians need to get involved now and
sign the shark conservation petition at the Bahamas National Trust.
"In fact on the east coast, in the Atlantic here we actually have 18 species of sharks that are so depleted that they are prohibited from being caught completely, so the populations in the U.S. are tragically and severely declined, and the ecosystem has shown to have some negative effects including even commercially important fisheries. The legislation is a good step forward. It will actually legally mandate that the United States works on international treaties and push other governments around the world to start stepping up on shark conservation. It's a good step forward. It puts the United States government in a strong position to advocate for shark conservation in world global forums, " states Rand.
The video is narrated by Gina Sealy of The Ministry of Tourism.
Note on the Shark Conservation Petition from the PEW Group: The petition is
not currently on the internet, but BNT is currently circulating the
paper petition in communities throughout The Bahamas. People interested
in signing the petition, or to learn more about what can be done locally
to support this issue, should contact Shelley Cant, Education Officer
at the Bahamas National Trust (SCant@bnt.bs).