These are the scenes likely to meet one on the beaches of a village in the Western Region known as Butre. The people of the village are engaged in a practice known as shark finning.
Shark Fin Soup is an Asian delicacy and so there is a huge demand for shark fins. The sharks are caught by fishermen and their fins are cut off. Shark meat is considered to be worthless so the carcasses are left to rot or thrown into the sea. Estimates of the global value of the shark fin trade range from US$540 million to US$1.2 billion. Shark fins are among the most expensive seafood products, commonly retailing at US$400 per kg. A quick chat with one of the fishermen reveals that they make about 300 cedis per shark.
So where do the dolphins come in? Well, the fishermen use the dolphins, preferably baby dolphins, as bait for the sharks. Dolphin meat too is off no use to the people of the village so it’s discarded as well.
It’s easy to see how destructive this practice is. Since the 1970s the populations of several species have fallen by over 95 percent. Several species of dolphin are considered endangered and are near extinction. The effect of this on the marine ecosystem is cataclysmic. According to The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Shark Specialist Group “the rapidly expanding and largely unregulated shark fin trade represents one of the most serious threats to shark populations worldwide.”
As of 2013, shark finning has been outlawed in 27 countries and the European Union. It also violates the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. However, since international waters are unregulated, it continues unabated.
Should you feel strongly about the needless slaughter of our sharks and dolphins, you can click here to visit the Stop Shark Finning website.
Author : Sedem Garr, Writer threesixtyGh