The discovery of the remains of a de-finned and decapitated shark on the beach at South Ballina yesterday morning has sparked fears the blackmarket harvesting of shark fins is growing in order to supply restaurants selling shark-fin soup.
The finding of the mutilated unidentified shark follows similar disturbing incidents last year, including one at Evans Head where a grey-nurse shark was washed up with both its fins hacked off.
The shark’s tail and fin had been sliced off with a knife and its head removed, possibly for its jaws and teeth, indicating it was part of a commercial shark-finning operation.
Late last year, a local commerical fisherman was convicted for killing a protected shark.
The finding has prompted shark conservationists to call on the federal government to ban the import of shark products and to follow the lead of Western Australian Fisheries, which enforces illegal fishing, including protected sharks.
Andrew Archer, also known as The Shark Guy, and Lawrence Stanley, from the Planet Earth Herald, recently staged a peaceful protest outside a Gold Coast seafood restaurant in their quest to ban the sale of shark-fin products in Australia.
They say shark fin soup has led to the extermination of 90 per cent of all sharks over the last decade and that ‘without action, sharks will become extinct’.
Mr Archer yesterday told Echonetdaily the importation of shark products ‘creats a local market for restaurants to get local fishermen to illegally harvest fins.
‘So many Chinese restaurants are selling the product, so if you have a couple of Aussie blokes on a boat pissed after drinking a case of beer and they see a shark, they’ll catch it, hack its fins off and sell them to the restaurants,’ Mr Archer said.
‘We have to change that by stopping all shark product imports. We should also take a leaf out of the WA Fisheries who have set the benchmark in the fight against illegal fishing, they do a five-star job, are proactive in policing and are boarding boats to check continually.
‘NSW, Queensland and other states have to lift their game on this.’
The Surfers Paradise restaurant targeted for the protest recently by Mr Archer specialises in shark’s fin soup, which it openly advertises, and buys shark fins for its soup from an importer.
According to the Australian Society for Marine Conservation, around 240,000 sharks are slaughtered daily to meet the global demand for shark fins to make soup.
The fins are harvested by cutting them from live sharks, which are then discarded back into the ocean to bleed out and die.
The commercial and illegal fishermen harvest the fins, which fetch a high price on the global restaurant market. The dried fins are purchased to make soup.
‘An ocean without sharks will devastate the delicate balance, which ultimately maintains the health of our entire planet,’ Mr Archer said.
To support the campaign to stop the practice, visit facebook.com/thesharkguy.