Still a lot of work to do for shark protectors

245723thumbmWhile in the last months there have been some good news for sharks, such as the adding of some shark species to the CITES appendix II or the total ban of shark finning in the waters and vessels of the European Union, the situation is even getting worse in other parts of the world.

In Fiji the destructive exploitation of the sharks and the complete ecosystem has become a more and more accepted practice although there is no traditional history of shark fishing there.

The following article has been published today on


HUNG shamelessly from a tree by the roadside for all to see, the two young men separated skin from flesh and chopped up the prized catch into big chunks.
The fins, tails and heads of the five mako sharks had been removed at the first point of contact — on the high seas on board tuna fishing boats inside Fiji’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
If not for the distinctive head of this species of the world’s oldest predator, their strong jawline and razor-sharp teeth that lined the grin that stayed frozen at death, a sight that has so often driven a world still reeling from the impact of Jaws into fear, the fish could have easily passed off as wahoo or sailfish.
Even dead, the sharks stopped traffic last week.
The two men were oblivious to the attention they had seized off the busy road at Veisari outside Lami. All they cared about was “processing” the mako for the Suva fish market.
They didn’t care about what some of those passing said about their being part of the shark product industry that’s taking a heavy toll on our shark population and the marine ecosystem.
Soon their pockets would be filled.
Setareki Laveti, a carver who had taken his fight for sharks into designs on dining tables or anything wood of the rich and famous in Fiji, was among those who stopped dead in their tracks at the sight of the sharks.
As a crew of the Uto ni Yalo, he visited countries that killed sharks indiscriminately and saw first-hand the damage it did to their marine ecosystem.
“It is a pitiful sight. These sharks were finned, deep-freezed and sold cheaply once on shore. What about the sharks finned and left to drown? That happened in the past and continues to happen out there,” Mr Laveti said.
With no legislation in place to stop or control the plunder of this animal that keeps the balance and health of the marine food chain, there is a worrying trend of acceptance of shark products in some of the country’s main centres.
The two men — who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation by those who advocate for shark protection — have been dealing in shark meat for some time.
Ironically, they hail from an island whose surrounding reefs are starting to show signs of overfishing. The disappearing sharks have led to the slow demise of other fish that depend on the king of the reef to protect them from predators down the food chain.
To them, shark meat is easy money. They don’t need a boat to go out and fish. They just wait at the wharf.
When the Chinese fishing boats sail into the harbour, the buyers of finned sharks lined up for what are mostly mako. At $10 each at whatever size, they transport them out of the city to “process”, which involve skinning the thick hide of the sharks and chopping them into blocks that fill white plastic bags.
For most of the week, buyers have the choice of buying the bags of white flesh at $5.
Like the pair along the Queen’s Rd, 62-year-old Mala (not his real name) sells shark meat openly at the Suva market. It has become his livelihood.
“Before, we used to skin the sharks at the fish market but the Suva City Council stopped us because of the overpowering smell of the skin. Now we have to transport the sharks to the outskirts to do this or we fear we may not be allowed to sell where people flock to buy fish,” he said.
“It’s good money for us. We buy at $10 each and can make up to $70 from a mako shark if it’s a good day. Life’s hard in Suva. We left the island to come here for a better life and this has provided us with a good opportunity.”
Mala, who is usually accompanied by his granddaughter next to the Walu Bay bridge where he “processes” the sharks, said he understood the role of the predator in a healthy ocean environment for our future generations but it was legal to catch, fin and sell shark meat.
While tuna boat operators have insisted that sharks are just a bycatch, shark advocates and environmentalists say otherwise — that the sharks are a targeted fisheries that make a big part of the tuna boat operators’ income.
Previous surveys revealed that the fins are mostly flown to Hong Kong, sent to the mainland for processing at cheap labour and returned to Hong Kong from where they are marketed back across China and other Asian countries as a costly delicacy.
Coral Reef Alliance shark campaigner Manoa Rasigatale, who has been calling for some form of protection for sharks, is more disappointed now than he was when a plan to turn Fiji’s waters into a shark sanctuary like that in other parts of the Pacific never made it before decision makers.
He and other stakeholders have since been waiting on a proposed shark management plan by the ministry.
“We’re still waiting. And while we’re doing that the wrong signals have been sent out that it’s OK to plunder our shark stocks without thought to what we’re doing to our marine ecosystem,” he said.
“The tuna operators, and other coastal fishermen who bring in these sharks, feel free to do so because it is legal. They know the effects but no one seems to care anymore because it is accepted.”
He said people were losing conscience, become more daring and unashamed to be involved in the killing of sharks that was destroying Fiji’s biggest resource — its reefs, ocean and marine life that tourists flock to marvel at.
“When the sharks are gone, do you think the tourists will come for the dead reefs? All the hard work done by some in the ministry, in other organisations, by others who care about our ocean will go down the drain if we don’t do anything to protect the best thing we have.
“People in Fiji never used to eat shark meat before like they do now. The fact that it is being sold and bought openly shows we have adapted a mindset that’s blind to our future. We need to stop this before it is too late.”
For the tuna boat operators and those like Mala, it is simple — make hay while the sun shines.
And while it does shine for the increasing number of shark hunters, those who wait for that management plan to be implemented hope it is soon before the sun sets for good on these species.



Recent Donation

subnautalogoThank you very much to Subnauta in Portimao, Portugal. Subnauta supported my project with a generous donation.

The Diveschool is already known for caring about the underwater world. Not only have they already earned a project AWARE award but they are also just about to finish their enormous project “Ocean Revival“. Four vessels between 45 meters and 102 meters length have been prepared for diving and immersed to a depth of 30 meters to become an artificial reef and increase the health of the maritime ecosystem in the Algarve.

For more information visit


Article about cycle4sharks in newspaper

The following article has been published in the english speaking newspaper “Algarve Resident” in the Algarve, Portugal.


Man travels 6,500km on bike to protect sharks

300813_su_lucas_schmitz_3-[78285]_resBy MICHAEL BRUXO

A 6,500km bicycle trip from Germany to the Algarve as a protest against the killing of sharks in some parts of the world was successfully completed by German diving instructor Lucas Schmitz.

The adventure, named ‘Cycle4sharks’, was based on the premise that for every euro donated Lucas would travel 2km. The target was to reach €2,000 worth of donations and trek 4,000km but the amount of money offered led the animal protector to cycle more than expected, and he travelled more than 6,000km in six weeks.  

The total funds were directed to Project Aware, which describes itself as a “growing movement of scuba divers protecting the ocean – one dive at a time”.

Lucas told the Algarve Resident why he decided to embark on this journey.

“I have been a diving instructor for 10 years and, during that time, I have noticed a big difference in terms of the ocean’s bio-diversity.”

Given that 2013 is the International Year of Sharks, Lucas decided to organise ‘Cycle4sharks’ in order to raise awareness about the endangerment of these fish.

“Most people don’t know how bad the situation really is. Portugal, Spain and France together kill more sharks (through fishing) than any other country in the world,” he said, justifying his statement with his own personal research and his interaction with specialists on the subject. He also added that this was partly why he decided to travel through these countries.  

The German diving instructor, who has been living in the Algarve for the past two years, trained for two months in order to prepare for the marathon he started in July.

Throughout his journey, however, fatigue became one of his main obstacles.

“It was tougher at the beginning as my legs really ached,” he confessed.

But this did not stop him. Despite having to rely on his tent or the online website couchsurfing to find accommodation for a well-deserved rest, Lucas kept on moving and concluded what he considers to be “an experience which he can cherish for the rest of his life” at the DiveXperience scuba diving centre in Carvoeiro on August 18.

Along the way, he encountered and socialised with numerous people who provided support and donations for his cause.

Looking to the future, he admitted he would like to repeat the experience soon and make it an annual event, however, not to the extent or proportion of “Cycle4sharks”. “It is hard to find the time to take on such a big challenge,” he said.

In conclusion, Lucas left a warning: “Most people see sharks as monsters who want to eat humans. This is not true. These fish are extremely important to the balance of the ocean’s eco-system but are now at risk of extinction due to mankind’s actions.”

Bobby Enright, Alex S. Earl gefällt dieser Artikel

Happy international whaleshark day

Today is International Whale Shark Day, so what better time to celebrate these magnificent creature

Most of you know it. But just to clarify: The whale shark is a shark, and as a shark (and thus a fish), it is the largest fish in the sea. It breathes via its gills, and has cartilage instead of bone, making it a true shark. The name “whale shark” comes from the shark’s large size, which rivals some species of whales, and also because the shark is a filter feeder, like baleen whales.

When we say that the whale shark is big, it’s no fish tale: Whale sharks can reach lengths of 40 feet or more, and weigh more than 10 tons. Not only is the whale shark the largest fish in the ocean, but it’s the largest fish that has ever existed!

3. Whale sharks are extremely unusual, because unlike their almost all other shark species, the whale shark is not a top predator. Instead, whale sharks feed on plankton – tiny plants and shrimp-like animals that float in the water.

The whale shark’s life cycle and lifespan are still largely a mystery, but it is estimated that whale sharks may live to over 100 years of age! Whale sharks don’t reach maturity until 30 years, which adds to the vulnerability of this threatened species.

Whale sharks’ large size, slow speed, and habit of swimming near the surface makes them easy targets for fishermen, who hunt the whale shark for its flesh, liver oil, cartilage, and fins. The species is only protected in a few more than a dozen of the 100 countries’ waters it is known to visit.

The whale shark range includes the U.S. East Coast, which is considering allowing seismic airgun testing. These dynamite-like blasts will deafen or kill tens of thousands of marine creatures like the magnificent whale shark. Luckily, we can do something to stop it. Please sign this petitionto protect these gentle giants from harm. 

source: Oceana<\a>

Let us win 5000 GBP for shark protection

owcWith my project cycle4sharks I am trying to win the Mountain Warehouse Charity Challenge

The winner gets 5000 GBP for the charity he is collecting for. So if I win, the money goes to Project AWARE.

There are 2 voting rounds. The first round is open until 31fs of August. Only the 10 projects with the most votes come to round 2.

With my project I rank on place 16 of 540 in the moment.

So with only a few more votes we have a real chance to come to round 2.

Please vote for my project!!! (click)


finishToday at midday on my finish point in Carvoeior, Portugal at Algarve DiveXperience.

The last six weeks were an amazing and unforgettable experience.Now after a nice dive and a warm shower as well as a good lunch, I feel  very good. It is an incredible feeling to have come along the entire Europe’s Atlantic Coast south from Oostende, Belgium over more than 6000 km in six weeks.

Please give me some days to switch off before publishing a detailed report.


Jo Nathan gefällt dieser Artikel