[Coral-List] Overfishing of blue and silky sharks to the detriment of Palau coral reefs?

Steve LeGore slegore at mindspring.com
Wed Oct 10 10:54:15 EDT 2007

My wife and I attended a pre-release screening of a film titled "Sharkwater" just last evening.  The film is due for national release in early November, and I recommend it to anyone interested in this issue.  While it includes a scene or two that I have questions about, the film is overall informative and very enlightening about the scale and scope of the shark finning fishery.  I thought I was aware, but some of the graphics widened my eyes.  The film is professionally produced with dramatic and beautiful imagery -- other than the finning fishery images, of course --  and has been awarded 21 international documentary film awards.  You may preview it at http://sharkwater.com.

And no, I have no connection with the makers or anyone marketing this film.  I am merely recommending that professionals interested in this issue should take the opportunity to see it when they can.

Steve LeGore

-----Original Message-----
>From: "Tupper, Mark (WorldFish)" <M.Tupper at CGIAR.ORG>
>Sent: Oct 10, 2007 1:57 AM
>To: Crawdaddy Hale <crawdaddyhale at hotmail.com>, coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Overfishing of blue and silky sharks to the	detriment of Palau coral reefs?
>Dear Christopher,
>I am the former Senior Scientist at the Palau International Coral Reef
>Center and I have spent about 5 years researching coral reef fish and
>fisheries in Palau, before moving to the WorldFish Center in Malaysia.
>I seriously doubt you will find any data or information relating
>fisheries for pelagic sharks to coral reef health, because I suspect
>such data do not exist. My guess would be that pelagic sharks like blue
>and silky sharks spend the great majority of their time in open water
>and do not contribute significantly to the trophic structure of Palau's
>coral reef ecosystems. Thus their removal would likely have little
>effect on coral reef health. What you should look into more closely is
>the effect of removing these apex pelagic predators on Palau's pelagic
>fisheries, which target yellowfin tuna, wahoo, mahi, and various other
>scombrids to supply the restaurants with fresh sashimi and sushi.
>Unfortunately, I doubt many data exist on this subject either.
>Having said that, I seem to recall that Palau's finning laws were
>implemented after a particularly nasty case where a Taiwanese boat was
>discovered with the fins of something like 3000 sharks on board. I had
>heard (but cannot confirm) that among these sharks were reef-associated
>species such as gray reef sharks, great hammerhead sharks, and tiger
>sharks. That information should be documented somewhere. If correct,
>that means the boat must have come well inside the 24 mile zone, right
>up to the barrier reef area. This in my mind is the greatest danger in
>allowing shark finning anywhere - that a boat may simply sneak in close
>to shore at night and take nearshore shark species off the reefs. This
>could very well have a large impact on both the coral reef ecosystem and
>the dive tourism industry. I believe it this issue of compliance that
>you should focus on in Palau. If you can convince the Judiciary of the
>danger in giving shark finners the opportunity to illegally target
>reef-associated sharks (by applying only token "slap on the wrist fines"
>as opposed to vessel seizure and jail terms), then perhaps you can make
>some progress.
>Best of luck,
>Dr. Mark Tupper
>Scientist - Coral Reefs
>The WorldFish Center
>PO Box 500 GPO, 10670 Penang, Malaysia
>Tel (+6-04) 626-1606; Fax (+6-04) 626-5530
>Coral-List mailing list
>Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

Steve LeGore, Ph.D.
LeGore Environmental Associates, Inc.
2804 Gulf Drive N.
Holmes Beach, Florida 34217 USA
Executive Director,
Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean
Tel: 941/778-4650
Fax: 941/778-4650
Cell: 941/447-8010
E-mail: slegore at mindspring.com

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