Monday, September 13, 2010

Organizations call for end to shark fishing


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By JASMIN BONIMY

Guardian Staff Reporter

jasmin@nasguard.com

A group of commercial fishermen and environmental organizations is calling for the government to enact legislation aimed at clamping down on shark fishing.

In press releases sent out over the weekend the Bahamas Marine Exporters Association(BMEA)and the Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliances(BCFA), as well as the Bahamas National Trust(BNT), all highlighted the issue of shark fishing on The Bahamas.
The joint release issued by the BMEA and the BCFA said the two organizations also oppose the commercial harvesting of both shark fins and sea urchins in Bahamian waters.
The organizations added that they do not believe proper research has been conducted into the impact of the commercial trade of both marine species.
"There is unilateral concern about the manner and methods used in the commercial shark trade and in the absence of regulations these practices are extremely destructive,"said the statement.
"Issuing permits for harvesting these and other fisheries without conducting proper stock assessments to determine their substantiality will have a damaging impact to our marine life. We further encourage the government to enact laws to prohibit such activities."

While shark fishing is also popular among sports fishermen who obtain fishing permits from customs officers at ports of entry, Agriculture officials admit that commercial shark fishing is increasing.
For this reason members of the BMEA and the BCFA insist that all fishermen operate within strict guidelines and with high standards in order to protect and preserve the nation's marine resources.
The BMEA and BCFA statement came days after the BNT announced that it strongly opposed any type of shark finning or commercial shark fishing in The Bahamas.
"Most shark species are already in decline across most of their range, and populations in many oceans and seas are already decimated and extirpated,"said the BNT release.
"Twenty years ago The Bahamas National Trust led the war to outlaw long lining, and as a result of the decision by government, The Bahamas remains the only country in this hemisphere where healthy populations of sharks still exist."
The BNT added that, despite a lack of proper data, it believes shark fisheries are not sustainable.
"All shark fishing except for catch and release sports fishing should be discouraged,"said the BNT statement."Permanent protections for sharks should be considered by the relevant government agency now-especially in light of recent developments."
The BNT along with other environmental organizations have banded together and created an online petition calling for the Ingraham administration to ban shark harvesting inThe Bahamas.
Up to press time last night, nearly four thousand people had signed the online petition. The group has a goal of five thousand signatures.

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