If you guys get "The Travel Channel" on cable (or on satellite dish),
later today in the USA (as it is already early Thursday morning in LA
and vicinity!), Michelle Garforth (who is South African) goes cage
diving with great whites off South Africa on the "Travel Daily"
television program (at 10:00 AM and repeating later at 9:00 PM in Los
Angeles and vicinity as these broadcast times may vary in Hawaii and in
the rest of the USA) . "The Travel Channel" is owned by Discovery
I had met Michelle last November when she and I were going to do a blue
shark dive off Los Angeles. However, I had told her and her Producer
that the shark diving was better in the Bahamas (where I had dove for
the NBC "Weekend Today" SharkPOD demonstration national television
segment which was broadcast throughout the USA from New York in July of
1997)and that we should do the shark dive there instead! This Bahamas
shark dive segment of Michelle's was broadcast last week.
The following just in from Bob Endreson (who had helped write the
shark-fin trade Ban Bill in Hawaii):
by the The Western Pacific Fisheries Coalition
[a non-profit coalition of concerned fishermen and conservationists and
not in any way associated with the Western Pacific Regional Fisheries
Management Council (WPRFMC)].
HONOLULU, HAWAII........April 28, 1999.
Last night, during a Conference Committee hearing in the Hawaii State
Legislature, a measure that would have prohibited the landing of shark
fins in the State of Hawaii, unless the entire shark was utilized, was
deferred until next session.
Unfortunately, the Bill, HB1706, had made it through all the House
Committees and through one Senate Committee and was deferred as a result
of a 3-3 split decision. The Bill was subsequently revived by
Representative Brian Schatz and Representative Dwight Takamine of the
House Finance Committee at the last minute and re-introduced forcing it
to go to Conference Committee with the Senate. Although Rep. Schatz
and Rep. Roy Takumi co-authored the Bill and supported it throughout the
hearings, little could be done despite an out-pouring of international
Although the proponents of the Bill are disappointed, we are however,
pleased with the outpouring of support this Bill has received from
people and organizations from around the world.. The debate here in
Hawaii has heightened the awareness of this barbaric practice and
unified both fishermen and conservationists alike. As it is not only a
waste issue, but it goes against all ethical behavior of any reasonable
human being. It has also generated a great deal of interest by
governments and officials throughout the U.S. and the Pacific. Although
the battle may have been postponed here in Hawaii, the war is certainly
not over and larger entities are now entering the debate and are calling
for a shark finning ban Pacific Wide.
In this debate it was not only unfortunate, but very alarming that the
Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Council (WPRFMC), a Federal Agency
responsible for fisheries management in the Western Pacific Region,
opposed and lobbied against this State Landing Law, which was clearly
outside of their purview. The Bill was not only consistent with
National Policy, supported by the National Marine Fisheries Service
(NMFS), another agency of the Department of Commerce and was clearly in
line with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
NMFS testified before the Senate that; "NMFS is not opposed to shark
finning, if other parts of the shark are utilized". They also indicated
that, "NMFS is recommending that this policy apply throughout the U.S.
EEZ". The WPRFMC conversely gave the Legislature a great deal of
misinformation including a statement that said;
"the proponents of this bill continue to assert that finning is
conducted on live sharks. Federal observers on Hawaii longline vessels
have documented that 98% of sharks are finned dead and that most of the
sharks are killed by severing the spinal column or spiking the brain,
methods used to kill other fish brought on board alive".
What is so misleading about this statement is the fact that the WPRFMC,
stewards of the Western Pacific Fisheries, neglected to tell the
Legislators that the same Observer Data, to which they referred, also
showed that 86% of the sharks caught were brought aboard alive and could
have been released alive totally eliminating bycatch not increasing it.
This is how longline fishing vessels fished just a few years ago.
The WPRFMC also neglected to tell the Legislature that attempts to sever
the Spinal column may sometimes simply just immobilize the shark and
does not necessarily kill it 100% of the time. They also failed to
disclose that longliners also use clubs, guns and electric shock to kill
these animals according to a NMFS data collection protocol survey. So at
best, according to the WPRFMC, 98% of the sharks that are finned are in
some way severely abused before finning. However, what is not known, is
how many sharks are actually dead when released, and this abuse and
waste is clearly being endorsed by WPRFMC.
The WPRFMC also told the Legislature that; "The Magnuson Act requires
Councils to Minimize bycatch in federally managed fisheries. If shark
finning is stopped in the Hawaii longline fishery, this will actually
INCREASE bycatch, since none of the shark is used. Utilization, even of
only a part of a fish, is bycatch reduction".
We hope you find this statement as deplorable as we do and use it to
fuel your resolve to help eliminate this needless slaughter, not to
promote it, simply TO REDUCE BYCATCH.
According to information obtained from the WPRFMC:
NMFS observers recorded more 60 different species caught by the
Hawaii-based longline fleet between 1994 and 1997. Data collected on the
catch and discards of PMUS by Hawaii-based longline fleet in 1997 are
presented in Table 4.1.b. Of significance are the 85,523 sharks, of
which the majority were blue sharks, caught by the fleet. Up until about
five years ago, most sharks caught by longline gear were released alive.
However, as a result of the growing demand for shark fins in Asian
markets, the practice of shark finning has increased. Presently, more
than half of the caught sharks, including species other than the blue
shark, are finned. About 1% of the sharks, mainly mako and thresher, are
headed and gutted and retained for later sale. However, the majority of
longline vessels do not retain blue shark carcasses because they cannot
be profitably sold. Aside from sharks, there is a small fraction of the
total catch that could be sold but is not retained for economic reasons.
For example, marlins are often discarded at the beginning of a trip to
leave hold space for more valuable species. Most of these economic
discards are released alive.
This WPRFMC information should define the problem and the solution.
Recently 11 tons or 22,000 pounds of dried shark fins were landed at
Pier 35 in Honolulu Harbor. See..............
Enforcement agents from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and
Department of Land and Natural Resources did hand out citations in this
matter, for permit violations, but were limited as to what they could
do. Putting things in perspective, 22,000 pounds of shark fins equates
to approximately 100,000 sharks killed simply for their fins depending
on the size and weights used to estimate numbers.
Shark Finning Angers The American People Most .............Survey Says!
Chronic oil dumping in the ocean most clearly communicates that the
oceans are in trouble, and makes people very angry. People see the fact
that 3.25 million tons of oil enters the world's oceans each year as a
strong indicator that the oceans are in trouble (71% "great deal of
trouble"). This statement also makes a plurality (40%) feel very angry.
Other meaningful indicators that the oceans are in trouble include
overfishing and the loss of critical species (61% great deal), beaches
being closed 5000 times in the last decade (60% great deal), and marine
mammals being destroyed (58% great deal). Surprisingly, what makes
people the most angry is shark finning, or cutting the fins off living
sharks and then throwing the sharks back in the water to die (42% say it
makes them extremely angry). See complete information
According to one scientist knowledgeable shark fisheries, this needless
slaughter is analogous to what the Buffalo hunters did years ago. They
killed the buffalo for it's tongue and hide and left the carcass to rot.
They thought they would never have an impact on the buffalo herds until
one day they looked up and they were all gone. If you want more
information about this sort of practice, there's an excellent video on
the Web at..........
Go to their main menu and click on "save the shark" as it's an eye
If you are concerned about any statements made by the WPRFMC, we suggest
you call or write your local US Congress Person or Senator, the
Department of Commerce or:
Charles Karnella, Administrator
National Marine Fisheries Service
Additional Web sites for reference: