What follows is a copy of an email sent to me by Michael Aw, the well known underwater image maker. I must admit it makes me very sad.
October 2, 2000 Shark finned alive in the Maldives Today at 3pm, whilst diving Lily Beach Channel, Ari Atoll, I found a handsome 1½ m Gray Reef lying on the bottom at 25m. Closer inspection revealed that the animal was tied with a noose around its caudal peduncle (narrow section of tail) to a small rock. Its pelvic, pectoral, 1 st and 2ns dorsal fins and half its tail fins are missing from its sleek cadaver. It is apparent that they were sliced off while the animal was still alive. In 1997, we found shark fins in stacks of 1 ½ metre high in back street shop in Male, the capital island of the Maldives. Interviews with the traders exposed their buyers are from Singapore. After extensive lobbying with diving agencies, dive schools the Maldives authority announced protection for sharks in all the tourist atolls in 1998. Shark finning became illegal. This year in April, a few divemasters working on safari boats emailed me that the fishermen were seen fishing for sharks at dive sites such as Fish Head and Maaya Thila. I requested for photographic evidence, which sadly I acquired today. The Shark fin trade MUST BE STOPPED; countries such as Maldives and Indonesia must impose great environmental laws to protect their ecological environment. However, due to the expanse of water in the Maldives and Indonesia, effective policing is difficult. Resources are also limited. As I have said many times before, to protect sharks, we must first destroy the shark fin trade. Simple economic principle, as long as there is the demand, especially lucrative dollars from traders in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, the fishermen will continue to fish for sharks. Don't blame the fishermen; he is poor, he is possibly living from hand to mouth, his income a mere fraction compared to the traders and restaurateurs in Singapore and Hong Kong. If the conservationists, divers, NGOS and media are serious about protecting sharks they must boycott all restaurants that promote gourmet shark fin soup; they must lobby to respective customs departments to make the import of shark fins illegal, perhaps punishable with extensive fines and imprisonment. Likewise, media that claim to be supportive of protecting the ocean environment should regularly publish a black list of restaurants serving shark fin soup. If the so call RSPCA is supposedly set up to protect cruelty to animals, they should also take a stand lobbying for total ban in the shark fin trade. Otherwise, all conservation effort is futile, preaching only to the converts. Meanwhile divers, nature and animal lovers, I call on you to go up to someone you see consuming shark fin soup and tell him/her loudly "SHAME ON YOU !"
***A "SHAME ON YOU" SAVE OUR SHARKS campaign is on the drawing board; we wish to black list restaurants and hotels in SIngapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taipei that serve gourmet shark fins soup. PLEASE send us a list indicating name and address if you can help. Much appreciated.
OceanNEnvironment Ltd A Non-Profit Organisation for the Ocean Environment
You know it happens here in the UK too, don't you. Do the same. If you see a restaurant advertising shark fin products go in and tell them you can't eat in here because of it. Don't just walk by it.
Go to the Links page for links to Michael's site and Ocean Environment's.