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List of Articles
Sharks in Galapagos in peril
Merry Camhi and Sid F. Cook
Some of my best friends are
Disputed cancer'cure' spells -. .
disaster for Costa Rica's sharks
Johel Jimenez .. -. .
Sharks and cancer the real
Carl A. Luer
Shark organizations worldwide Illustration @ Rp William' 193
East Asian fin trade
Bibliography: technical reports and publications
Campaign for a Living Coast
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Sharks in Galapagos in peril
Merry Camhi, National Audubon Society
Sid F. Cook, Argus-Mariner Consulting Scientists
While shark populations around the world have been seriously over- fished for some
years, one of the newest threats is even more alarming because it is taking place
within the protected waters of the Galapagos Marine Resources Reserve. On 23 June
1994, Ecuador reversed a long-standing provision that protected the sharks of the
Archipelago from intensive commercial exploitation. From 16 January to 15 April 1995, -
permitted fishers will be allowed to legally fish for sharks in Reserve waters beyond 3
mites from shore. Sea cucumbers, lobsters and groupers will also be fished
commercially. Because the Galapagos Islands have long been an international model
for the protection of biodiversity, the implications of this move are of great concern to
the scientific and conservation communities.
Twenty seven species of chondrichthyans in nine families are documented from the
nearshore waters of the Archipelago (Lavenberg et al. 1994; Grove & Lavenberg, in
press). The islands are one of the last places in the world to see large numbers of
hammerheads, including great (Sphyrna mokarran), smooth (S. zygaena), and schools
of scalloped hammerheads (S. lewini). Together with 11 species of requiem sharks (F.
Carcharhinidae) these two groups are the most heavily exploited of the sharks in
Galapagos because their fins are highly prized in the fin markets of the orient. The
remaining 13 species of sharks found around the Archipelago and three other species
that may casually visit the area are not targets of a commercial fishery at this time
(Lavenburg et al. 1994). However, they may be caught incidentally in gear set for the
Scalloped hammerhead sharks Sphyrna lewini caught in shark net illegally set in
Marine Reserve, Wolf (Wenman) Island, Galapagos. Doug Perrine.
Protection for the marine environment
The Galapagos are recognized as a hotbed of biological diversity and the birthplace of
evolutionary science. They have been a focus of global conservation efforts for
decades. Establishment of the Galapagos National Park in 1959, declaration as a
World Heritage Site in 1971, and as a Man and the Biosphere Reserve in 1982
provided extensive protection to terrestrial flora and fauna and advertised Ecuador's
commitment to the preservation of these ecological treasures. In turn, these
conservation actions have served Ecuador well by encouraging a thriving and lucrative
Protection for the marine environment, however, did not come until 1986, when the
Galapagos Marine Resources Reserve was established. Covering 70,000 km2,
including the interior sea of the Archipelago and out to 23 km, the GMMR is second in
size only to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, In addition, since 1990, all inland
waters have been declared an International Whale Sanctuary. Other legislation
prohibits the capture and trade of any sea turtle species within Ecuadorian waters.
Although rapid growth in marine tourism and marine pollution are taking their toll, the
Charles Darwin Foundation identifies large- scale commercial fishing as the single
greatest threat to the marine environment of Galapagos. Through their diligent work, in
co- operation with technical experts from around the world, a marine management plan
was developed and signed into law in August 1992. The management plan allows for
local, traditional, and artisanal level commercial fishing in the Reserve, but severely
curtails industrial- level fishing. Yet there has been continual pressure by national and
foreign fishing interests to legalize major commercial fisheries in Galapagos for sharks,
sea cucumbers, lobsters, and groupers.
History of illegal exploitation
Despite Reserve designation, illegal, industrial-scale fishing in Galapagos has been
rampant over the past 5 years. Clandestine shark fisheries were discovered in 1988
and 1991: tens of thousands of sharks were killed for the Asian fin market, at times
using the strictly protected local sea lion as bait. Local protest prompted legislation that
prohibited shark fishing within most of the Reserve, as well as the transport and trade
of fins to the mainland of Ecuador. Over the past two years, despite the ban, dive tour
operators have observed at least 100 dead hammerhead and Galapagos
(Carcharhinus galapagensis) sharks, as well as sea turtles, tangled in fishing nets.
There are anecdotal reports that the once common Galapagos and silky sharks (C.
falciformis) have declined markedly.
In 1992, an extensive illicit fishery also developed to export protected sea cucumbers
to Asia. Lobster have been subject to a seven-year fishing moratorium to prevent their
extermination and grouper are also being depleted. Up to 80 major fishing vessels from
Japan, Taiwan, and Korean licensed to fish for tuna are illegally long- lining for sharks
and sea turtles and trading in other protected species within the Reserve. Effective
marine patrolling and enforcement of the management plan are constrained by a lack
of patrol vessels and expertise in marine resource protection.
Fuelled by these foreign fishing interests and by the indecisiveness of the Ecuadorian
government over whether or not to lift previous fishing bans in the Reserve, fishers
mounted a protest and picketed the Charles Darwin Research Station in June 1994.
They threatened to kill rare giant tortoises (indeed, over 80 tortoise deaths have been
confirmed on Isabela Island in 1994 alone) and to introduce non- native species to the
few remaining pristine islands, if the bans were not lifted.
Yielding to this pressure, on 23 June 1994, the Ecuadorian government lifted previous
bans on the large-scale commercial fishing for sharks, sea cucumbers, lobsters, and
groupers. The new fishery regimes undermine the integrity of the approved and
biologically defensible management plan for the Marine Reserve. According to Alfredo
Carrasco, Secretary General of the Charles Darwin Foundation, "If adopted, this plan
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will allow for the piecemeal management of the Reserve, ignoring the carefully
established zoning scheme and exploiting precisely those areas that are the most
pristine and fragile." Apparently, no catch quotas or management plan has been
developed for the new shark fishery.
Long-term impact of the fisheries
Targeted sharks, sea cucumbers, and lobsters are not the only species at risk from the
intensified fishing activities. As apex predators, the larger shark species may play an
important but still poorly understood role in structuring the marine community in
Galapagos. These large sharks (likely targets of the new fishery) prey on sea lions, fur
seals, smaller shark species, and/or juveniles of the large shark species. In other
locales, such as off southeastern Africa, where large sharks were heavily fished, the
resulting proliferation of the smaller sharks led to a decline in bony fishes important to
local sport and commercial fisheries.
Similarly, there is concern that the excessive exploitation of sea cucumbers will
reverberate up through other links in the marine food chain because their larvae are a
major component of the local zooplankton. Even the terrestrial environment is being
damaged by these fisheries as mangrove is being heavily cut for boiling sea
cucumbers prior to export. Birds, such as the endemic Galapagos penguin and
flightless cormorant, who depend on the sea for their food, could be adversely affected
Sustainable exploitation of sharks and sea cucumbers have been unattainable
everywhere in the world. Failures of specific fisheries have been well documented
including the North Atlantic porbeagle (Lamna nasus) fishery in the 1960s and the bull
shark (C. leucas) of Lake Nicaragua in the 1970s (Thorson 1985). Cook & Compagno
(in process ms) have estimated that more than 90% of the directed shark fisheries in
the 20th Century have failed and detail the factors causing fishery failure.
The pattern of sea cucumber exploitation has been to "mine out" one area and then
simply move on to the next. Heavily fished areas in Micronesia prior to World War II,
still have not recovered. In 1994, the Darwin Foundation requested that IUCN conduct
an assessment of sea cucumber status in Galapagos. The study concluded that sea
cucumber have already been wiped out in a number of locations and that the ban on
sea cucumber fishing in the Reserve should be maintained. Because of this and other
severe management problems with illegal fishing, the Galapagos Marine Resources
Reserve was denied World Heritage Site status, to send a message to Ecuador to
better protect these unique resources.
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Photo: Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch
The short-term exploitation of Galapagos marine resources will directly benefit less
than 2% of the islands' residents. It is unclear how much it will generate compared to
Ecuador's US $50-60 million annual tourism industry. As has been demonstrated in
Costa Rica's Cocos Island and Mexico's Sea of Cortez, overfishing of hammerheads
there precipitated the loss of a booming dive trade (Robertson 1994). In the Maldives, ii
is estimated that a grey reef shark may be worth one hundred times more alive at a
dive site than dead on a fishing boat (Anderson & Ahmed 1993).
Because so little scientific data is presently available, it is difficult to determine what, if
any, sustainable level of fishing may be possible in the Marine Reserve. To confound
the problem, even if defensible quotas could be established, monitoring of catch levels
and enforcement of fishing restrictions would be nearly impossible given the financial
constraints of fishery management agencies and the lack of patrol vessels in
Galapagos. Because these populations are so susceptible to over-exploitation, and
because effective management is unlikely, we are strongly urging Ecuador not to open
large-scale fisheries for sharks, sea cucumbers, and lobsters in the Galapagos Marine
Our thanks to the Charles Darwin Foundation, Jack Stein Grove, Doug Perrine, Daniel
Cerzon, and Sonny Gruber for providing information for this article.
Anderson, R.C. & H. Ahmed. 1993. Shark fisheries in the Maldives. Ministry of
Fisheries and Agriculture, Maldives, and UNFAO. 76 pp.
Cook, S.F. & L.J.V. Campagno. (In process ms). The failure of shark fisheries:
implications for management in southern Africa.
Grove, J.S. & R.J. Lavenburg. In press. The fishes of the Galapagos Islands. Stanford
Lavenburg, R.J., J.S. Grove, & J.A. Seigel. 1994. Note: Status of fisheries for
Galapagos sharks, with a checklist of known species. Chondros 5(2): 10.
Robertson, G. 1994, Schooling hammerheads of the Galapagos: Threatened natural
treasure of the world. Ocean Realm (une): 39-41,
Thorson, T. B, 1985. Human impacts on shark populations. In: Sharks- An Inquiry into
Biology, Behavior, Fisheries, and Use (S. Cook, editor), pp. 31-37.
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Some of my best friends are sharks!
Bernard Seret reports on a fabulous adventure in Bimini
In April 1994, a group of twelve young people from France, aged from 14 to 17 years,
lived through one of the most exciting experiences of their lives in Bimini (Bahamas):
they now have new friends! However, these friends are not ordinary ones. They usually -
have a bad reputation and people do not like them because of their 'ugly mugs'! Still,
they are wonderful "buddies" when one makes an effort to get to know them.
Our young peoples' new friends have curious names: Galeocerdo cuvier,
Ginglymostoma cirratum, Negaprion brevirostris, Carcharhinus perezi, etc. These
esoteric labels are those of fearsome creatures, sharks! They fascinate us, but we are
also afraid of them mainly because we are frightened of what we do not know and
understand. However, the sojourn in the Bimini Shark Laboratory (the Biological Field S-*
Station run by Professor Samuel Gruber) allowed our young people to learn a lot about
sharks and also to like and respect them.
The initiation started months ago in Paris with Bernard Seret (Elasmobranch Scientist
in ORSTOM) with a series of lectures and personal homework. Then, at last came the
first encounter in Bimini waters. What an opportunity! The first shark was not only one
of the most feared, a tiger shark, but the encounter also took place by night. Hardly
surprisingly, there was some hesitation among our young people when they had to
jump into the sea what an ambiguous feeling is produced by conflicting fear and
eagerness to communicate with a mythical creature! The first contacts were very
hesitant, but step by step the kids started to pat the rough skin of the shark, its tail, its
body then finally coming close to the head and famous jaws. following this first
experience, other encounters took place. Then we had to restrain the excitement of our
teenagers who wanted to swim with the sharks and play with them. Well, the aim of this
adventure was not to play, but to discover these living myths and to put an end to the
sad and unrealistic 'jaws' image which has been given to sharks for so long. This
ocean planet is becoming more and more widely colonised and exploited by humans,
but it is possible to share the oceans with their inhabitants, even with the most feared
of them, the sharks.
This message was clearly received by the young Frenchies. There is no doubt that
Stephanie, Martin, Mathieu, Momo and the others are now willing to share their own
experience to make sharks better known (a TV video is available and a special report
is in preparation). As a result all of them can assert that 'some of their best friends are
sharks'. Indeed, this kind of educational programme is in keeping with the aims of the
IUCN Shark Specialist Group.
This adventure was made possible thanks to the collaboration between the Ushuaia
Foundation, the City Hall of Paris, the French Research Institute ORSTOM and the
diving school 'Blue Dive'. Special thanks are due to the whole staff of the Bimini Shark
Laboratory: 'Doc' (Professor Samuel Gruber), Dr Enric Cortes, Ms M. Gruber ('Shark
Mum') and Aia.
Bernard Seret, Antenne ORSTOM, Museum national d'Histoire naturelle, Laboratoire
d'lchtyologie, 43 Rue Cuvier, 75231 Paris cedex 05, France.
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Disputed cancer'cure' spells disaster for Costa Rica's
Johel Jimenez, Tropical Conservation News Bureau
In a small factory in the Pacific port town of Puntarenas, Costa Rica, workers process
towering mounds of cartilage taken from one of the county's many diminishing wildlife
species: sharks. Business is thriving, even if the shark population is not. According to
Luis Mena, manager of Shark Technology of Costa Rica, from April-December 1993,
monthly production of dried and crushed cartilage increased from about 3,000 to
Ninety percent of the cartilage is shipped to the United States, where it is turned into
pills that are sold in the U.S. and in Germany, England, and other European markets.
Not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the pills are sold in health
magazines. One brand of shark cartilage pill, called Requin 3, sells for $59 for 90
William Lane, who in 1990 helped establish Shark Technology, shark cartilage contain
protein that inhibits tumor growth. His conclusion is based on his own research. He has
published no scientific papers, offering only anecdotal evidence. "Shark cartilage is a
unique and extremely promising treatment for cancer," Lane told the Journal of the
National Cancer Institute.
Mena is enthusiastic about Lane's claims. "Before, I did not dare say that sharks cured
cancer," he said. "Today I believe it, after seeing Dr. Lane's research with 30 patients
with terminal cancer in Cuba. Ninety percent of them were cured, to the surprise of
prominent Cuban doctors."
The chief of oncology at Costa Rica's National Children's Hospital is not convinced.
"These claims have no scientific validity," said Dr. Francisco Lobo Sanahuja. A
spokeswoman for the National Cancer Institute agrees. "We consider [shark cartilage
pills] pretty much a farce," she said, adding that her advice to cancer patients is "not to
waste their money." .
Sharks almost never get cancer. Biochemist Carl Luer at the Mote Marine Laboratory
in Sarasota, Florida, has tried in vain to induce a tumor in sharks. Researcher Trish
Blum works with Luer's research team and is trying to isolate the cancer-inhibitinge
protein so it can be produced synthetically. But Blum emphasises that "there is
presently no evidence to support the idea that taking pills make of shark cartilage
would have any effect on cancer."
As in many other countries, including the United States, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Mexico
and South Africa, the shark population in Costa Rica is collapsing from overfishing.
Also threatening the sharks is the market for shark fins, which are exported to Asiane
^H Also threatening the sharks is the market for shark fins, which are exported to Asian ^ ^ U U ^ ^
countries for shark- fin soup. In Costa Rica, shark fins are sold for as much as $65 a
Sharks may not be able to withstand this deadly pressure much longer. Most shark
species do not begin breeding until they are 10 or 12 years old. Many species produce
just two offspring per breeding cycle. Odds are, then, that a dismal percentage of the
sharks hauled into Shark Technology have not reproduced. Ecologists worry that the
disappearance of sharks, which are at the top of the food chain, could have a
devastating effect of the complex web of life in the ocean.
But if a Costa Rican enterprise is contributing both to medical fraud and ecological
disaster, the country seems unconcerned. President Rafael Calderon presided over
Shark Technology's inauguration. In 1992, Costa Rica's Export council awarded the
factory its prize as the most original new export business.
Nor is Mena worried about depletion of the species on which the business depends.
"When there is scarcity, we will import cartilage from Guatemala or El Salvador," he
said. He explained that to produce their old quota of 7,000 kilos of dried cartilage each
month, they need 350,000 kilos of "green" cartilage. And they'll take any kind of shark
they can get. When asked how many sharks per day the factory processed, the
manager refused to answer. When pressed if it was 100 a day, 200 a day? The
manager just said, "More than that."
The company plans to open another factory, in a small port town on Nicaragua's
The above story first appeared in Living Oceans News, Spring/Summer 1994, a
newsletter of the National Audubon Society's Living Oceans Program, and is
reproduced with the Society's permission.
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Shark finning in the Red Sea
During the summer of 1994, Yemeni fishing boats have been travelling north into
Sudanese and Egyptian waters catching and finning sharks. Sha'ab Rumi reef, that
normally hosts 30 or 40 grey reef sharks (and other species) on its southern point has
been cleaned out of sharks. The fishermen were arrested by the Sudanese authorities
after the damage was done. Other Yemeni shark-fishing boats have been spotted on
Elba Reef on the Egyptian/Sudanese border, with shark fins drying on their decks.
To my knowledge, finning is a new development in the region. The diving industry of
Egypt has a turn-over of many millions of dollars annually and divers travel to these
waters to see sharks. The Sudan could support an equivalent tourist industry if it so
desires, provided that the shark populations of its reefs remain. On the other hand, the
fins of a dead shark are worth only a handful of dollars.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Ottawa, banned the finning of sharks
(removal and retention of fins and discard of the carcass) on June 6, 1994. The
Department has also produced a draft shark conservation and management plan for
controlling and monitoring fisheries for mako, porbeagle and blue shark. The
preparation of this Plan followed extensive industry consultations, and it should be
completed and approved by the end of the year.
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Sharks and cancer the real story
Carl A. Luer, Manager, Biomedical Program, Mote Marine laboratory *
Sharks and their relatives, the skates and rays, have enjoyed tremendous success
during their nearly 400 million vears of existence on earth. One reason for this certainly
is their uncanny ability to resist disease. Sharks do get sick, but their incidence of
disease is much lower than among the other fishes. The low incidence of tumors found
among the sharks and their relatives has prompted biochemists and immunologists at
Mote Marine Laboratory (MML) to explore the mechanisms that may explain the
unusual disease resistance of these animals. We designed experiments to see whether
tumors could be induced in the sharks and skates by exposing them to potent
carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals. While there were similarities and differences
in the responses when compared with mammals, no changes in the target tissues or
their genetic material ever resulted in cancerous tumor formation in the sharks or 6
These chemical exposure studies, encompassing about ten years of research effort,
have led us to more recent investigations of the shark immune system. Compared to
the mammalian system which is quite specialised, the shark immune system appears
primitive but remarkably effective. Sharks apparently possess immune cells with the
same functions as those of mammals, but the shark cells appear to be produced and
stimulated differently. Furthermore, in contrast to the variety of immunoglobulins
produced in the mammalian immune system, sharks have only one class of
immunoglobulin (termed IgM). This normally circulates in shark blood at very high
levels and appears to be ready to attack invading substances at all times.
Another difference lies in the fact that sharks, skates, and ray lack a bony skeleton,
and so do not have bone marrow, where the immune cells in mammals are produced.
In sharks, the immune cells are produced in the spleen, thymus, and unique tissues
associated with the gonads and oesophagus. Our studies at MML in collaboration with
researchers at Clemson University have determined that a significant number of
immune cells, which mature and circulate in the shark's blood, may be available to
respond without a lag period resulting in a more efficient immune response.
Our future plans include further investigations of the differences between mammals
and sharks in the regulation of immune cells. This information may someday lead to
improved methods of immune cell regulation in humans, especially cancer patients.
But human health applications from our research are many years in the future, and will
rely on continued funding and active collaboration with the drug industry and medical
community. Meanwhile, there are many public misconceptions about the clinical
potential of shark-derived products for treatment of disease. For example, freeze-dried
shark cartilage pills, marketed as food supplements through health food stores and
mail order houses, are being touted as miracle cures for cancer as well as arthritis.
The claims are based on research conducted during the 1980s at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT) and at Mote Marine Laboratory. These studies of cow anc
shark cartilage were designed to understand how cartilage is naturally able to resist
penetration by blood capillaries. If the basis for this inhibition could be identified, it was
reasoned, then it might lead to the development of a new drug therapy. Such a drug
could control the spread of blood vessels feeding a cancerous tumor, or the
inflammation associated with arthritis.
The research showed that only very small amounts of active material, with limited
ability to control blood vessel growth, can be obtained from large amounts of raw
cartilage. The cartilage must be subjected to several weeks of harsh chemical
procedures to extract and concentrate the active ingredients. Once this is done, the
resulting material is able to inhibit blood vessel growth in laboratory tests on animal
models, when the concentrated extract is directly applied near the growing blood
Unfortunately, there is no logical reason to conclude that freeze- dried shark cartilage
pills taken orally could "seek out" a malignant tumor in a cancer patient and inhibit the
blood vessels feeding it in a manner similar to the laboratory tests. Also, there is no
reason to think that shark cartilage contains anything which is not found in other animal
cartilage. Sharks are used because their entire skeleton is cartilaginous.
Finally, since in laboratory tests it must be chemically extracted, there is no reason to
assume that the active material in the cartilage is passively released to inhibit blood
vessel growth elsewhere in the body. This means that cartilage, no matter whether in a
shark, a cow, a dog, or a human, probably plays no active role in disease resistance in
the living animal. The statements made by shark cartilage pill promoters that it is
cartilage that give sharks their immunity to cancer, then, are inaccurate and
This is not to say that the basic research to understand the chemical basis for cartilage
resistance to blood vessels shouldn't continue. The potential for this research to lead to
new drug therapies is very real. But what should be halted is the use of sharks as a
source of cartilage to be ground up and marketed as a panacea, with little or no
support for effective results in fighting disease when taken as a food supplement.
The above story was excerpted with permission from an article that first appeared in
Mote Marine Labs' Shark Line, Summer 1993.
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Shark organizations worldwide
Mote Marine Laboratory, Center for Shark Research
Mote Marine Laboratory, an independent, non-profit marine research and education
center in Sarasota, Florida, was named by the US congress as the site for the Center
for Shark Research (CSR) beginning in April 1992. This designation has made Mote an
international site for the scientific study of sharks in cooperation with the National
Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The Center is charged with three primary
responsibilities. It leads new interdisciplinary research efforts on sharks, hosts
international conferences to address both fisheries and basic biology issues, and -
enhances public awareness of sharks as an important component of marine
To achieve this last responsibility, the Center publishes The Shark Line newsletter
twice a year Summer and Winter. The Shark Line contains articles pertaining to the
shark research done at Mote and elsewhere, current happenings in the research field,
and educational activities for teachers and students.
If you'd like to receive The Shark Line, please write or call: Heather Henry, Public
Relations, Center for Shark Research, Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson
Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236 USA. Phone (+1) 813-388-4441. Fax (+1) 813-388-
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East Asian fin trade
North-west Pacific subgroup of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group
This article is extracted from The status ofelasmobranch fisheries in the western North
Pacific. Report of the North-west Pacific subgroup of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group,
Regional Vice Chair Sho Tanaka.
The full report presents the status of the landing and fisheries of elasmobranchs in
eastAsian countries, based on FAO Fishery Statistics, reviews trends in landings over
the past ten years, and identifies flirthpr fisheries rpwarch needed.
Catches of elasmobranchs by east Asian countries *
The (landed) catch of chondrichthyan fishes in the world's oceans has shown a
increase since 1983 and exceeded 700,000 metric tonnes (t) in 1990. East Asian *
countries landed about 200,000 t from 1981 to 1988. Their catches then increased and
reached 270,000 t in 1990, representing one third of the recorded world landings. FAO
areas 61 and 71 border east Asian counties. Catches in the former area showed a
reduction in 1988, but have remained stable at about 100,000 t. On the other hand, the
catches in area 71 increased gradually after 1983 and lately came level with those in
the former area.
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Figure 1. Exports of shark fins in the world and east Asian
The recorded catches in FAO area 61 are attributable to Hong Kong, Japan, South
Korea and probably Taiwan, but the catches in this area by China, North Korea, Russia
and Viet Nam are not described in FAO Fishery Statistics. Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia,
Philippines, Singapore, south Korea and Thailand record their catches in FAO area 71.
Oceanian countries also make a catch of chondrichthyan fishes in FAO area 71. The
full Shark Specialist Group report from which this article is extracted reviews and
explains the recorded catches of elasmobranch fishes in each country by FAO area.
2500 -J 8000
- t Km 5000
/ \D0 oGg -M 000
Figure 2. Imports of shark fins in the world and east Asian
Shark fin trade
In south-eastern Asia, shark fin is an important ingredient of Chinese soup. The first
dorsal fin and lower lobe of the caudal fin are more valuable than the second dorsal
and pectoral fins. The value of fins also varies with species. When a shark is caught
the fins are cut off and usually dried naturally, and the body is frozen as a semi-
dressed fish or fillet, or discarded. In Japan, fin landings are not recorded and fins are
traded directly between fishermen and fin merchants. The wet weight of the first dorsal,
caudal and pectoral fins is 4%-7% of body weight.
Landings of shark fins are not published for east Asian countries, but export and import
data for shark fins in each country are available from FAO. As shown in Figure 1, world
exports varied from 3,200 to 4,300 t until 1986, then increased sharply to 5,400 t in
1990. Exports from east Asian countries have represented 72%-80% of the world total
since 1985, Hong Kong and China show a strong increase in exports from 1985, and
those from Singapore are subject to sharp fluctuations. The exports from Japan,
however, continue to decrease and have halved over ten years. South Korea, Thailand
and Vietnam all export less than 100 t of shark fins.
Similarly, world imports of shark fins were stable at about 4,200 t until 1986 (Figure 2).
They then increased rapidly to a level of about 6,600 t. Imports to east Asian countries
commonly comprise over 95% of the world total, and Hong Kong handles more than
half of all recorded world imports. Singapore's imports have been steady between 800
and 1,000 t, except in 1988. China shows a gradual increase from 1986 and imported
more than Singapore in 1990, Imports to Malaysia and Thailand have been about 1001
for the last five years.
What catches of sharks are estimated from these fin transactions? If the dry fins are
assumed to be three percent of total weight of a shark, [see Editor's note below] the
catches estimated from the exports in 1990 are 180,000 t. This estimate is almost
equivalent to the catches from east Asian countries. Figures for the exports and
imports of shark fins for Hong Kong and Singapore are much larger than the catches o
elasmobranchs in the countries. Though the Philippines and Taiwan land large catches
of sharks, they do not trade shark fins. Landings of elasmobranchs in China and Viet
Nam are not published in FAO Fishery Statistics, but these countries do trade in shark
Editor's note: The Fishery Management Plan for Sharks of the Atlantic Ocean (NMK,
NOAA, US Dept of Commerce, 1993) estimates a fin yield of 0.7%, and Shark
Fisheries in the Maldives (Anderson and Ahmed, 1993) a yield of 1.45%: total shark
catches of 770,000 and 370,000 t respectively.
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Bibliography: technical reports and publications
A social and economic characterization of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico recreational
M.R. Fisher & R.B. Ditton, 1994. Marine Fisheries Review. 55(3): 21-27.
Abstract: "A mail survey of tournament shark anglers and party boat shark anglers was
completed to examine their fishing activity, attitudes, trip expenditures and consumer
surplus. A sample of 700 shark anglers was selected from tournaments in the Gulf of
Mexico during 1990, and a sample of party boat shark anglers was drawn from Port
Aransas, Tex., party boat anglers during the summer of 1991. A response rate of 58% -
(excluding nondeliverables) was obtained from tournament anglers. The sample of
party boat shark anglers was too small to provide useful results. Tournament shark
anglers reported fishing an average of 58 days per year and targeted sharks and other
large marine species. Tournaments occupy a small portion of their fishing effort. If this
group of anglers were not able to fish for sharks, one-third indicated no other species
would be an acceptable substitute, while others were willing to substitute other large
marine species. Shark trip expenditures averaged $197 per trip with a consumer
surplus of $111 per trip. Based on Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey
(MRFSS) estimates of the number of shark fishing trips, we estimate a total of
$43,355,000 was spent by shark anglers in the Gulf of Mexico with a consumer surplus
of $23,865,000 for a total gross value of the shark fishery of $66,220,000. MRFSS
estimates of the number of sharks landed indicate an equivalent use value of $183 per
The paper also compares these figures with the $500,000 annual cost of enforcing
commercial and recreational fisheries under the Fishery Management Plan for Sharks
of the Atlantic Ocean, 1992 (NMFS, NOAA), and concludes that the gross use value of
the Gulf of Mexico recreational fishery would appear to justify this expenditure, since it --
results in a net benefit to the nation when the management costs are subtracted.
World checklist of living chondrichthyan fishes
Leonard Compagno, Vice Chairman, IUCN Shark Specialist Group
Sub-equatorial African Region
This checklist has recently been drafted and is now available for comment by other *.i
researchers involved in the taxonomic section of the Shark Action Plan (contact the
editor for a copy). Once their comments have been incorporated, sponsorship will be
sought to enable the final list to be circulated with a future issue of Shark News.
Dr. Leonard J.V. Compagno, Curator of Fishes, Shark Research Center, Department o
Marine Biology, South African Museum, P.O. Box 61, Cape Town, South Africa,
Telephone: (+27) 21-24-3330. FAX: (+27) 21-24-6716. eMail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proceedings of the second European Shark and Ray Workshop. Tag and release
schemes and shark and ray management plans.
S.L. Fowler and R.C. Earll (editors) 1994.
This document presents papers and abstracts of presentations made at the tagging
workshop and other papers of European (North-east Atlantic and Mediterranean)
interest subsequently sent to the editors by participants. Theworkshop
recommendations are also summarised. They include the need to improve regional
and international shark fisheries management, establish an international shark
conservation and management programme, and set up a European Elasmobranch
Working Group. Copies are available from Dr Clare Eno, JNCC, Monkstone House,
City Road, Peterborough PE1 1JY. UK.
Campaign for a Living Coast
pleased to sponsor the second edition of Shark News. We wish it continued success
and hope that it will provide a focus for the exchange of information within the Shark
Specialist Group and with other interested parties.
A LIVING COAST
In 1992 English Nature set out a long-term conservation programme to achieve
effective solutions to the over-exploitation and lack of proper care which now threatens
our coasts and estuaries, and many of the species living in the seas around them. As
the 'Campaign for a Living Coast' continues, issues such as coastal protection and
development, sustainable management of estuaries and the promotion of sensitive
marine areas as a form of conserving important areas for marine wildlife are being
Within our work, commercial and recreational fisheries have been recognized as an
area where both like-minded and opposing views exist in relation to the conservation of
marine wildlife. In order to develop better understanding of fisheries and their potential
impacts, English Nature has developed policies on particular areas of concern. One of
these policies advocates a review of priorities for research, stock assessment and
management protocols for sharks, skates and rays. These non-quota species are
subject to particular pressure as a result of their slow growth, time taken to reach
maturity and the production of small numbers of young which are vulnerable to fishing
from birth. Despite these facts, fisheries for such species lack any form of conservation
regulation in Britain.
If you are able to provide any information that would help in our work, please contact
Paul Knapman, Marine Fisheries Officer, English Nature, Northminster House,
Peterborough, Cambridgeshire PE1 1UA, UK. Tel. (44) (0) 733 318298.
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Any information on forthcoming meetings and notes/comments on relevant meetings
attended by readers would be most gratefully received by the editor. Please send them
in for the next issue!
FAO Technical Consultation on the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
Rome, Italy. 26 September-5 October 1994.
The code contains six thematic areas for which guidelines are to be developed: Fishery
management practices, Fishing operations, Aquaculture development, Integration of
fisheries into coastal area management, Fair trade practices (including post-harvest
practices), and Fisheries research. The Agreement to Promote Compliance with
International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High
Seas was to form an integral part of the Code, which will also take into account the
1992 Rio Declaration, Agenda 21 of UNCED, and the outcome of the UN Conference
on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.
CITES, 9th Meeting of the Conference of Parties.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. 7-18 November 1994.
There are no marine species proposals for this meeting, although the United States
National Marine Fisheries Service is preparing a discussion brief for the Agenda item
on Trade in Shark Parts and Products, This is intended to encourage discussion on
how best to collect data on international trade in shark parts and information on the
impact of international trade on shark populations and marine ecosystems.
FAO Committee on Fisheries biennial meeting.
20-24 March 1995.
The reviewed draft text of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (see
opposite) will be submitted to this meeting.
UN Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.
Second and third meetings: New York City, USA.
27 March-12 April and 17-28 July 1995. l
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