February 24, 2006

Seychelles bans cutting sharks’ fins

By George Thande

VICTORIA (Reuters) - The Seychelles has banned the cutting
off of sharks' fins by foreign fishermen to curb a flourishing
global trade that is threatening the survival of the sea
predator and marine ecosystems.

The United Nations estimates that 100 million sharks are
killed every year world-wide, mostly for their fins which are a
delicacy in East Asia where a bowl of shark fin soup can
command high prices.

Dozens of countries have banned the practice of slicing off
of sharks' fins in the last few years.

The Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) ban took effect this
week and covers all foreign vessels fishing in the territorial
waters of the Indian Ocean archipelago.

The ban does not include domestic vessels, which the
government says are few and controlled, or shark fishing where
the whole shark is caught.


"Shark finning is the wasteful and cruel practice of
slicing off the highly valuable fins, often from living sharks,
and dumping the rest of the creatures back into the sea to face
a slow and certain death," SFA said in a statement.

"Shark finning ... threatens ... the stability of marine
ecosystems, sustainable traditional fisheries, food security,
dive and eco-tourism," SFA said.

The World Conservation Union says 65 out of 373 known shark
species are globally threatened, largely owing to the shark
finning trade. Some experts think the number is higher.

Fins from Hammerhead, Mako and Blue Sharks command the
highest prices while cheaper shark fins are usually taken from
smaller species.